Tristan Pompey collected four hits and Luke Becker hit two home runs as #6 Kentucky destroyed South Carolina 19-1 in Columbia. The Cats scored three runs or more in five innings in support of Sean Hjelle. The 18-run win was the largest over a SEC opponent in UK history.
Where to even start with this game? There were only two innings that UK didn’t score at least one run. The ball was flying out of the ballpark early and often for the Cats, but it was the small ball that got UK on the board early. UK got three early runs thanks to moving up on the basepaths. After UK loaded the bases in the third, Tristan Pompey drove in his first of four runs to give UK a 4-0 lead thru three.
Evan White added a run by scoring on a wild pitch in the fourth, but the ball started flying in the fifth. Pompey hit his seventh home run of the season as UK chased projected first round pick Wil Crowe after 4.2 innings. Crow filled in on Friday night for Clarke Schmidt, who will be out for the next year after needing Tommy John Surgery.
Zach Reks and Becker both walked and moved up on a wild pitch to lead off the sixth inning. With no outs, Riley Mahan and Troy Squires delivered with RBI singles off Colby Lee. Mahan would come around to score on a double play to give UK a 10-0 lead.
Squires was one of the guys tonight that just pounded USC’s pitching. Tonight was Squires’ second three-hit game of the season. It was also the third time that Becker had driven in five or more runs in 2017.
UK kept piling it on in the seventh and ninth innings. Connor Heady homered to lead off the seventh before Luke Becker added the exclamation point. Becker hit a three-run home run in the seventh and two-run dinger in the 9th to cap off a huge night for Kentucky’s offense. Becker, Heady, and Pompey all have seven home runs to tie Mahan for the team lead.
– KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) April 29, 2017
It’s hard to talk about anything else but the offensive performance tonight, but Hjelle was excellent once again. Hjelle struck out six in six scoreless innings as he lowered his ERA to 3.67 in 2017. After a rough start, Hjelle has emerged to an excellent Friday night starter. The talent mixed with a perfect amount of emotion on the mound makes Hjelle one of the top Friday night guys in the league.
Kentucky can make the SEC East Champion a two horse race with a win tomorrow. Florida won again tonight and trails UK by two games with 11 games to play. UK and USC are back at it tomorrow at 4 ET on SECN+.