Scout/Jeff Drummond

Kentucky Wildcats open series at Mississippi State with 5-2 win

Cats improve to 4-0 on the road in SEC play for the first time since 1949.

Zach Reks hit a two-run, go-ahead triple in the ninth inning Friday to lift No. 8 Kentucky to a 5-2 win over No. 19 Mississippi State in the first of a three-game series in Starkville.

The win pushed Kentucky (22-9, 8-2 SEC) to 4-0 on the road in league play for the first time since 1949. 

Logan Salow snuffed out a Mississippi State rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, retiring a pair of batters with the go-ahead runs on second and third to set up Reks' heroics. 

The winning runs came after Connor Heady drew a one-out walk, his third of the night, and Tristan Pompey followed suit with another free pass. Reks then stroked a line drive to centerfield that made it all the way to the wall, driving in both Heady and Pompey. Reks later came around to score an insurance run on an MSU passed ball.

Kentucky had only three hits in the game, but took advantage of nine walks issued by MSU pitchers. 

It marked the Cats' 11th win against a ranked team this season, the most since the the 2014 club had 12. 

Sean Hjelle started on the mound for UK, allowing only one earned run on three hits through 6.1 innings. The only earned run came with a stroke of misfourtune as Reks slipped on a sprinkler head along the left field line giving chase to a fly ball which turned into an inside-the-park home run. 

Zach Pop, Colton Cleary and Salow (1-2) closed out the win from the UK bullpen, combining to pitch 3.2 innings of shutout relief with only one hit surrendered and no walks.

Trysten Barlow (0-1) took the loss out of the Bulldogs' bullpen. 

Mississippi State dropped to 20-12 and 6-4 in SEC play. 

The Cats and Dogs meet in Game 2 on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.


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