Explosive offense leads UK past South Carolina in game one


Senior Catcher Troy Squires attempts to hit the ball on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky was defeated 8 – 6. Photo by Edward Justice | Staff

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 9 UK baseball team devastated the South Carolina Gamecocks in game one of the weekend series on Friday, beating the Gamecocks 14-1.

The victory was the first time the Cats have faced an SEC East opponent thus far and only the third win they have recorded at home in conference play.

Coming into the weekend 38-50 all-time and being knocked out of the SEC Tournament last year by the Gamecocks did not faze the club.

UK leads the SEC in batting average and home runs and added to that number on Friday. Troy Squires hit his first-career grand slam and Luke Heyer recorded his 12th home run of the season with a shot to center field. 

Tristan Pompey also hit a base-clearing line-drive double off the “Big Blue Monster” in right field.

“When him (Pompey) and Troy are going that well, that obviously sets the table for our offense,” head coach Nick Mingione said after the game. “How about Troy? His hundredth hit was a home run. A grand-slam home run. Really happy for him.”

Right-handed junior Sean Hjelle pitched six shutout innings, but his hopes of a complete shutout were crushed in the top of the seventh after consecutive singles brought a runner home. 

Hjelle went seven innings, allowing five hits and one run and recording eight strikeouts.

“Each run is just a weight off my shoulders. It’s just nice, even for the defense. We just go out there, play loose and have fun, just like we’re meant to,” Hjelle said.

Left-handed senior Brad Schaenzer came in at the top of the eighth to finish the game, going two shutout innings and securing Hjelle’s win.

The three-game set against South Carolina is a must-win if the Cats still plan on making the postseason run they’ve had their eyes on. They still reside near the bottom of the conference with one of the worst records.

The Cats are now 21-9 and look to win the series on Saturday, and even possibly complete the sweep on Sunday. They are now on a three-game winning streak and have won four games in SEC play. 

Saturday’s game will start at 6 p.m. and will be aired on SECN+ and the series finale will be on Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPNU. UK’s Zach Haake will take the mound in game two versus South Carolina’s Cody Morris.