Sean Hjelle turned in a dominant complete-game shutout effort and the offense rode the momentum of a first-inning Tristan Pompey home run to push Kentucky’s baseball team to a 6-0 victory over No. 22 Texas A&M in front of 5,242 fans at Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas, on opening night in the Southeastern Conference.
Hjelle gave up just four hits and one run while striking out a career-high nine. It was the Wildcats’ first complete game shutout since Dustin Beggs blanked South Carolina on May 7, 2016.
“That was a team effort,” Hjelle said. “We don’t win that game with our offense and defense. (Pompey) hits that first-inning home run, which was just awesome. Marcus Carson and Zach Reks were laying out for balls all night. Just a really good team win.”
While Hjelle (3-1) was rolling on the mound, the Cats’ offense gained confidence after Pompey took Texas A&M’s top starter, Brigham Hill, out to straightaway centerfield, clearing the 400-foot sign and slamming off the batter’s eye. The Cats (13-6, 1-0 SEC) added a second run in the third and three in the sixth on Troy Squires’ RBI single and Tyler Marshall’s two-run double. Marshall later added a perfectly executed squeeze bunt and finished with a career-high three RBI.
Not to be outdone, the Cats’ defense was stellar as well. Marcus Carson made a pair of running catches on the warning track and Zach Reks ended the Aggies’ eighth inning with a diving grab in left-center field with a runner on base.