Scout/Jeff Drummond

North Carolina pitching overpowers Kentucky Wildcats in season opener

Tar Heels fan 15 UK batters in 3-1 victory.

North Carolina's J.B. Bukauskas showed why he's a preseason All-American on Friday, allowing only three hits and a walk while striking out 10 in a season-opening 3-1 win over Kentucky.

The No. 17 Tar Heels (1-0) rode their power pitching all day long, fanning 15 Wildcats among their 27 outs. UK threatened by bringing the winning run to the plate in the top of the ninth inning, but UNC's Josh Hiatt struck out the side to close the first of a three-game series in Chapel Hill. 

North Carolina got three hits from Brandon Riley and two hits and two RBI from Zack Gahagan. Logan Warmoth also had a pair of hits and drove in a run for the Heels.

Kentucky (0-1) was playing its first game under new head coach Nick Mingione.

The Wildcats got three hits from Zak Reks and two from Evan White, but stranded 10 runners on the day.

Sean Hjelle, transitioning from closer to a starting role, took the loss for UK. The sophomore right-hander allowed three earned runs on 11 hits through five innings of work. He struck out two and walked none.

A bright spot for the Cats was the bullpen, which got three innings of one-hit, scoreless relief from Colton Cleary and Brad Schaenzer. 

The series resumes Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. 


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