Hjelle struggles in UK baseball’s extra-inning comeback


Junior Ben Aklinski high fives teammates after scoring during the game against Miami-Ohio on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 9 UK baseball team took game one of the three-game series against the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday evening 6-4 at Foley Field.

Junior right-hander Sean Hjelle took to the bump and allowed two two-run home runs that kept the Bulldogs on top until the rally in the ninth tied the game and sent it into extra innings.

Coming into the weekend series, Hjelle had allowed only one home run all season and two in 50.1 innings pitched.

Hjelle got the no-decision after going eight innings and closer Chris Machamer got the win with his three innings of work. Hjelle allowed four runs and recorded three strikeouts.

Luke Heyer singled to score Tristan Pompey in the fourth inning, UK’s first attempt to answer with some runs after the two shots out of the park.

The early home runs appeared to haunt as the Cats went to the plate in the top of the ninth trailing by three runs.

They needed three to tie it and delivered.

T.J. Collett hit his first double of the year to score Heyer and bring the deficit to two.

Ryan Johnson was walked to load the bases with two outs and Ben Aklinski smacked a two-run single to the left fielder to tie it at four, where it would remain until the 11th inning. The 11 innings were the most played by UK all season.

Trey Dawson stepped to the plate in the top of the 11th with two outs and drilled a two-strike double to the gap in left-center field. The double scored Zeke Lewis and Johnson, giving the Cats their first lead of the night and, finally, the win.

UK’s pitching will have to carry the Cats through the rest of the weekend. Fortunately, they only used Hjelle and Machamer in the nightcap and they have a full bullpen in case things go awry early in the doubleheader.

The Cats look to win the next two games to take the series and avoid their seventh loss in road conference play.

The first game of the Saturday doubleheader will start at 3 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network. Both will be complete nine-inning games.