BASEBALL: Sixth-Ranked Kentucky Dominates No. 21 South Carolina 19-1 Friday Night; Hjelle Throws Six
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 6-ranked Kentucky exploded for 19 runs and 20 hits and Sean Hjelle tossed six shutout innings as the Wildcats won at No. 21 South Carolina, 19-1, Friday night, April 28.
Beginning in the second inning, UK scored in six straight innings against the top-rated pitching staff in the Southeastern Conference. It was Kentucky’s largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent in school history and the most runs for the Wildcats against an SEC opponent since tallying 22 vs. Mississippi State in 2009.
In the process, Kentucky improved to 30-13 on the season, 13-6 atop the SEC Eastern Division standings. UK also extended a school-record streak of six-straight 30-win seasons and head coach Nick Mingione set a school record for most wins by a UK coach in his first season. South Carolina is now 24-16 overall, 9-10 in league play.
The win ended some losing streaks vs. the Gamecocks. It was UK’s first win in Founders Park after nine straight losses in a facility constructed in 2009. UK had lost 11 in a row in Columbia, dating back to 2008 and 22 of 24 since 2001.
Sophomore rightfielder Tristan Pompey led the Wildcats with four hits and four RBI, including a three-run homer in the fifth inning, his seventh round-tripper of the season. Junior catcher Troy Squires had three singles and drove in three runs. Senior shortstop Connor Heady had three hits and two RBI, including his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the seventh. Junior designated hitter Luke Becker entered in the sixth inning and clubbed a pair of home runs, a three-run blast in the seventh inning and a two-run blow in the ninth, his sixth and seventh long balls of the year.
On the mound, sophomore Sean Hjelle tossed six shutout innings, striking out six and allowing only three hits and one walk. He is now 7-2 on the season and leads the Southeastern Conference in victories. Brad Schaenzer pitched two innings and Austin Keen had a shutout ninth frame to complete the contest.
The teams return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. Junior lefthander Zach Logue (5-3, 4.20 ERA) will face South Carolina sophomore right-hander Adam Hill (2-3, 2.36).
Kentucky has reached 30 wins in a season for the 18th time in its history and the sixth-straight season.
Nick Mingione is the first head coach in Kentucky history to win 30 games in his first season at the helm.
His 13th SEC win ties Keith Madison (1979) for most SEC wins for a first-year UK baseball coach.
It is the first UK win at Founders Park, which was built in 2009.
Ends an 11-game losing streak to South Carolina in Columbia.
The Cats have now scored 10 or more runs in 15 games this season, including five times in SEC play.
The 18-run margin of victory is UK’s largest ever in SEC play.
The 19 runs were the most runs for UK in an SEC game since Miss. State in 2009 (22).
The Cats’ five-run seventh inning was the 16th time this season they’ve scored at least five runs in an inning.
Sophomore RHP Sean Hjelle went 6.0 innings, giving up three hits, no runs and striking out six.
It is Hjelle’s fifth consecutive quality start.
The third time in SEC play Hjelle has not allowed a run.
Junior 1B Evan White went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.
White now has 201 career hits, good for 16th on UK’s all-time career hit list.
White has a hit in 19 of his last 20 games.
White has multiple hits in seven of his last eight games.
White now has 17 multi-hit games this season and 61 for his career.
He currently has a 10-game hitting streak.
Senior IF Connor Heady went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, two walks, and a two-run home run.
The senior logged his seventh multi-RBI game of the season and 11th of his career.
Junior C Troy Squires went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored.
It was Squires’ fourth multi-hit game of the season and seventh of his career.
Squires now has two multi-RBI games this season and four in his career.
Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey went 4-for-5 with two runs, four RBI and a three-run homer.
Pompey now has hit safely in 30 of his past 32 games.
Pompey is currently riding a career-long 14-game hitting streak.
Pompey’s four RBI are a season-high and tie his career high, set against Dayton on Feb. 21, 2016.
His four hits tied his career high set in a 4-for-5 day at Mississippi State on April 9, 2017.
Kentucky will try to win the series at No. 21 South Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Founder Park. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio, as well as on 630 AM WLAP, and watch on SEC Network Plus (online).
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