Zack Brown turns in strong start as Kentucky Wildcats open series with 3-2 win over Bama

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Zack Brown turned in his best start of the season, and Kentucky turned around its luck in series openers.

The Wildcats' junior right-hander allowed only two runs over seven innings Friday as No. 13 Kentucky defeated Alabama 3-2 in the first of a three-game set at Cliff Hagan Stadium. 

It marked the first time in four league series that Kentucky (21-8, 7-3 SEC) has won the opening game. In the other three, the Cats have bounced back to win the Saturday and Sunday games.

Brown (2-5) broke out of his early-season slump by getting ahead of the Alabama hitters on a cold, windy night in Lexington. He threw only 85 pitches before turning the game over to Zach Strecker in the eighth and Sean Hjelle in the ninth. The latter picked up his fifth save of the season and extended his scoreless streak to 10 innings with 18 strikeouts.

Kentucky had only five hits on the night with Storm Wilson collecting two of them. JaVon Shelby's two-run double highlighted a three-run sixth that gave the Cats all they needed for the win.

In the  process, UK's Gunnar McNeill and Evan White saw their school-record hitting streaks halted at 23 and 21 games, respectively.

Alabama's Geoffrey Bramblett (3-1) threw a quality start in a hard-luck loss, working seven innings, allowing five hits and three runs, walking one and striking out nine. The Crimson Tide dropped to 18-12 and 5-5 in SEC play.

The series will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

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