Cats clinch series against Alabama with walk-off victory


Third basemen Javon Shelby high fives his teammates after hitting his fourth home run of the season during the game against the Murray St. Racers at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky. on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Chris Angolia

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No. 13 UK baseball picked up its fourth straight victory Saturday with a 6-2 walk-off win against Alabama, clinching the series with the Tide.

When coach Gary Henderson turned to Sean Hjelle in the ninth to pick up his sixth save of the year with the Cats leading 2-1, many felt the game was in good hands.

Things looked as if it would be an easy save for the freshman who has thrived all year, but with two outs in the ninth, Hjelle perhaps made his only mistake of the year allowing a game tying homer to the Tides Will Haynie.

However, Hjelle would end up adding another number to his record, one that was not a save, but rather a win, his second of the year.

UK immediately picked up Hjelle in the bottom of the ninth with two straight singles by JaVon Shelby and Gunnar McNeill. After both runners moved up courtesy of stolen bases, Zach Reks was intentionally walked loading the bases with no one out in the ninth.

After Luke Becker struck out swinging, Riley Mahan stepped in and provided some more late game heroics, blasting a walk-off grand slam, his fourth of the year and his second in clutch situations.

With the win, the Cats have now won each of the nine Saturday games they have played in this season.

Dustin Beggs continued to thrive Saturday going seven innings allowing just one unearned run on four hits. Beggs also struck out ten and picked up a no decision keeping his record at a perfect 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA, and his seven wins is good enough for tops in the SEC.

The Cats are now looking to pick up its first SEC-series sweep of the year Sunday when Kyle Cody gets the ball looking to produce his third straight quality start in conference play.

First pitch between the Tide (18-13) and No. 13 UK (22-8) is set for 1 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.