SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Sean Hjelle and Tristan Pompey delivered on their preseason accolades and the bullpen was lights out as No. 8 Kentucky opened the 2018 season with a 6-1 victory over Wofford at Russell C. King Field.
Pompey homered and had hits from both sides of the plate to lead an offensive attack that smacked three home runs and took advantage of its opportunities. A three-run second inning began with a two-out walk by Kole Cottam and two-strike hit by pitch for Troy Squires before Luke Heyer crushed a three-run homer to right-centerfield.
Meanwhile, Hjelle was dominant in retiring the first 10 hitters of the game and needing just 27 pitches to get through the first three innings. The junior preseason All-American and reigning Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year gave up just two hits and one run in six innings of work.
Redshirt freshman Carson Coleman relieved Hjelle and struck out five of the seven batters he faced in his collegiate debut then gave way to senior Alec Maley, who struck out all three hitters in his inning of work. Together the two didn’t allow a hit and struck out eight while recording the final nine outs.
Top 2nd – Kole Cottam walked. Troy Squires was hit by a pitch. Luke Heyer hit three-run home run to RCF. UK 3, Wofford 0.
Top 3rd – Tristan Pompey homered to straightaway CF. UK 4, Wofford 0.
Top 4th – Kole Cottam homered to RF. UK 5, Wofford 0.
Top 5th – Luke Becker doubled off the RF wall. Ben Aklinski singled up the middle to score Becker. UK 6, Wofford 0.
Bottom 6th – Alex Malsch walked to lead off the inning and scored on Mack Nathanson’s two-out double into the LF corner. UK 6, Wofford 1.
- This is Kentucky’s fewest runs given up in a season opener (one) since Feb. 23, 2008 vs. Xavier (one).
- Five players made their Kentucky debut: OF Ben Aklinski, OF Ryan Shinn, INF Trey Dawson, OF Ryan Johnson, RHP Carson Coleman.
- Junior right-hander Sean Hjelle went 6.0 innings, allowing two hits, one run, walking two and striking out three.
o He is the second Kentucky pitcher since 2002 to throw at least six innings, give up two hits or less, and give up one earned run or less in a season opener (Andrew Albers vs. Appalachian State, Feb. 18, 2005).
o He is now 16-5 in his career. His .762 winning percentage ranks third on UK’s career win-loss percentage list.
- Redshirt freshman RHP Carson Coleman made his collegiate debut.
o Coleman faced seven hitters, striking out five and allowing a walk.
- Junior OF Tristan Pompey went 2-for-4 with a solo home run.
o Pompey extended his streak of reaching base safely to 38 games.
o Had a hit from both sides of the plate.
o He now has 133 career hits, moving into a tie for 34th on the UK all-time list with Max Kuhn (2012-14).
- Junior OF Ben Aklinski went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his UK debut.
o Recorded an RBI single for his first Division I hit.
- Senior C Troy Squires went 1-for-2 with a run scored and HBP.
o Executed the 21st sacrifice bunt of his career, moving him into a tie for ninth on UK’s career list.
o Hit by the 15th pitch of his career.
Kentucky plays a scheduled double-header on Saturday at USC Upstate, with first pitches scheduled for 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio, as well as on 98.5 FM, and watch on USC Upstate’s Facebook page.