UK baseball drops game one of Knoxville series


Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Sean Hjelle hugs Kole Cottam after exiting the game in the eighth inning of the first round game of the Lexington Regional at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Friday, June 2, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 14 UK baseball team dropped game one of the three-game series in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Friday by a final score of 6-2.

With their current 10-12 record in SEC play and 29-16 overall, the Cats need big wins in remaining weeks to improve their standing in the postseason and secure their spot in the SEC Tournament.

Left-handed Will Heflin took the bump for Tennessee on Friday evening in his first SEC start of the 2018 season.

Kole Cottam gave the Cats an early lead after Troy Squires was walked in the first inning. At a full count, he hit a shot to left field, his 16th home run of the season.

Tennessee has 34 home runs as a team while Kentucky has 31 between Cottam and Luke Heyer alone.

UK’s ace Sean Hjelle took the mound for the Cats. The right-hander had an uncharacteristic outing, in which he allowed 10 hits and five runs in 5.2 innings. He is now 6-4 on the season.

Hjelle put himself in a jam early and failed to get out of it. His error contributed to the continuous struggle.

The Vols put up their first run of the game in the second inning.

They loaded the bases in the bottom of the third with an infield hit, single and walk. Andre Lipcius swung on the first pitch and tied the game at 2.

In the bottom of the fifth, Tennessee took a 3-2 lead on a triple from Justin Ammons. Lipcius got his third straight hit of the night soon after and made it 4-2.

An RBI single in the bottom of the sixth made it 5-2 and finally, a solo home run from Lipcius made it 6-2.

Heading to the top of the ninth, needing four runs to send it to the bottom, the Cats could not tie any runs together.

Cottam singled to center and broke Zach Linginfelter’s streak of 11 straight retired batters. The Cats loaded the bases, but did not get any further.

Both teams will look to make some noise this weekend as only three weeks remain in regular season play. UK will look to even the series on Saturday with a 6 p.m. first pitch at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Zack Thompson will get the start for the first time in months after coming back from injury.