College Station, Texas - Sean Hjelle turned in a dominant complete game shutout effort on the mound and the offense rode the momentum of a first-inning Tristan Pompey home run to push Kentucky to a 6-0 victory over No. 13 Texas A&M in front of 5,242 fans at Blue Bell Park on opening night in the Southeastern Conference.
Hjelle gave up just four hits and one run while striking out a career-high nine, going to just three three-ball counts the entire night. It was the Wildcats' first complete game shutout since Dustin Beggs blanked South Carolina on May 7, 2016.
"That was a team effort," Hjelle said. "We don't win that game with our offense and defense. (Pompey) hits that first-inning home run, which was just awesome. Marcus Carson and Zach Reks were laying out for balls all night. Just a really good team win."
While Hjelle (3-1) was rolling on the mound, the Cats' offense gained confidence after Pompey took Texas A&M's top starter, Brigham Hill, out to straightaway centerfield, clearing the 400-foot sign and slamming off the batter's eye. The Cats (13-6, 1-0 SEC) added a second run in the third and three in the sixth on Troy Squires' RBI single and Tyler Marshall's two-run double. Marshall later added a perfectly executed squeeze bunt and finished with a career-high three RBI.
Not to be outdone, the Cats' defense was stellar as well. Marcus Carson made a pair of running catches on the warning track and Zach Reks ended the Aggies' eighth inning with a diving grab in left-center field with a runner on base.
The win was UK's first in an SEC road game since winning at LSU in 2007, and the first time Texas A&M had been shutout in SEC play since the 2014 SEC Tournament.
• Sophomore RHP Sean Hjelle pitched a nine-inning, complete game shutout.
o It was UK's first nine-inning complete game shutout since Dustin Beggs blanked South Carolina on May 7, 2016.
o Hjelle struck out a career-high nine.
o It was the longest outing of his career, besting the 7.1 innings he threw against UC Santa Barbara on March 3, 2017.
o His 117 pitches were a career high.
o He went to three-ball counts just three times.
• Sophomore OF Tristan Pompey's home run in the first inning extended his career-long hitting streak to eight games.
o The home run was his first of the season and eighth of his career.
• Junior IF Tyler Marshall singled in the third inning to extend his career-long hitting streak to five games.
o Marshall knocked in a career-high three runs with a two-run double in the sixth and squeeze bunt in the eighth.
• UK has given up two or fewer runs in nine of the past 12 games.
Kentucky will try to win its opening SEC series on Saturday against Texas A&M at Blue Bell Park. First pitch on Saturday is slated for 3 p.m. and will aired on SECN+. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com and iHeart Radio or 630 AM WLAP in the Lexington area.