For the first time since 2012, Kentucky completed a sweep of an SEC series. Following wins on Thursday and Friday, the Cats (22-16, 8-9) wrapped up the series sweep of Tennessee (15-20, 5-13) with a 5-3 win on Saturday. Ka’ai Tom was three for four at the plate with three RBIs to lead the Cats to their eighth SEC win on the year.
Kentucky turned to spot starter Andrew Nelson to take the mound on Saturday. Nelson started earlier this week against WKU, going three innings and allowing one run. He continued his success this week by throwing 4.1 one-run innings against Tennessee. Nelson struck out three and allowed three hits to give the Cats an early presence on the mound. Kentucky has needed a spot starter like Nelson to step up in the third spot of the rotation following Kyle Cody’s recent struggles.
While Nelson was mowing down Tennessee’s batting order, Kentucky’s offense jumped out to an early lead. Back-to-back doubles by Evan White and Ka’ai Tom helped to give Kentucky a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The double was Tom’s 12th on the season and his 40th RBI.
Following an unearned run by Tennessee in the second inning, Kentucky loaded the bases for Dorian Hairston in the third. Hairston roped a single to right field that scored Evan White and gave Kentucky a 2-1 lead through three innings.
Nelson continued to cruise with a 2-1 lead heading into the fifth inning. Gary Henderson went to the bullpen after Nelson allowed a man to reach in the fifth. Zach Logue came on to pitch for the second straight game after picking up the save in last night’s 3-1 win. Logue would come in with an opportunity to collect the win, and that’s what he would do. Allowing two hits and no runs over 2.2 innings, Logue won his second game of the year.
Kentucky’s big inning came in the fifth. Kyle Barrett led the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a White groundout. Tom came to the plate against Tennessee’s Kyle Serrano with Barrett on third and one out. On a 3-2 pitch, Tom knocked his third home run of the year over the field wall near the football practice facility. This was Tom’s 42nd RBI on the year and his second extra-base hit of the game. JaVon Shelby followed Tom’s home run by hitting one of his own to left field. It was the first time Kentucky had hit back-to-back home runs since A.J Reed and Cameron Flynn in 2012.
The three-run inning would give Kentucky a much-needed 5-1 lead late in the game. Following Logue’s outing, Logan Salow came in with one out in the eighth and the bases loaded. Salow got a strike out and a fly out to end the jam and maintain a 5-1 lead. Henderson would keep Salow on the mound headed to the ninth, but he would be forced to make a quick change after Salow allowed a single and a double. Closer Spencer Jack took the mound, needing only two outs to complete the sweep. A sacrifice fly would cut the lead to three, but it put Tennessee down to their last out. Tennessee’s Jordan Rodgers singled to score another run, but Jack would shut the door following Rodgers’ RBI. Kentucky finished off the sweep with a 5-3 win over Tennessee.
This was Kentucky’s first sweep since 2012 against Alabama and their first sweep over Tennessee in school history. The three wins propelled Kentucky to fourth in the SEC East with a conference record of 8-9. The Cats take on Xavier on Tuesday and will travel to Florida next weekend to take on the red-hot Gators.