No. 6 UK baseball upsets No. 3 Texas Tech in series opener


Sean Hjelle delivers a pitch in Kentucky baseball’s season opener at Wofford in Spartanburg, S.C. on Feb. 16, 2018. Hjelle pitched for six innings and gave up two hits. Photo by Wofford Athletics.

Charlee Schaefer

The No. 6 Kentucky baseball team upset Texas Tech in the first game of the weekend series on Friday by a final score of 10-7. 

UK’s ace, junior right-handed pitcher Sean Hjelle took the mound for the Cats and looked to be in a bind early on as he allowed three runs in the first inning alone.

The Cats knew coming in that the Red Raiders are known for their offense.

“They’re a top five team. They’re going to put up runs,” Hjelle said after the win. “You just have to accept that going in and I was lucky enough, they got their runs in just right away off me and I knew that I’ve got the best team in the country behind me, playing. I knew they were going to put up runs and they were going to make the plays.”

Hjelle has been fairly back and forth so far in the season and hasn’t seemed to really find his groove yet. However, against Texas Tech, pitched seven innings, allowed three runs, one walk and recorded six strikeouts.

Right-hander Jimmy Ramsey replaced Hjelle in the eighth inning. Hjelle got the win and Chris Machamer came in with one out remaining and got the save.

The Raiders did not score again until the eighth inning on Josh Jung’s single. They threatened again in the ninth, coming one swing away from tying the game.

“We’re not going to give up, we’re not going to give in,” Hjelle said.

Texas Tech seemed to struggle with the height difference after facing Hjelle and Ramsey and could not produce any more runs after the quick early start.

Defense was definitely lacking today as well for the Cats. UK committed three errors that were easily avoidable, proving defense is still not where it needs to be if they want to go all the way this year.

The Cats seem to have no problem facing these big opponents but are not showing well in midweek games. Their only two losses have been midweek games to Xavier and NKU, both unranked teams.

They need to pinpoint the issues and fix them because those are important, non-conference matchups that can pad the record, which is essential approaching postseason play.

The Cats will play game two of the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The series finale will be Sunday also at 1 p.m.