Scout/Jeff Drummond

Sean Hjelle pitches Kentucky Wildcats past Missouri Tigers in series opener

Sophomore right-hander dominates Tigers.

Kentucky's Sean Hjelle out-dueled Missouri ace Tanner Houck on Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Columbia, leading the No. 10 Wildcats to a 5-2 victory.

The 6-foot-11 sophomore right-hander tossed seven shutout innings allowing only five hits and a walk while striking out eight. Hjelle (5-2) has allowed only one run in three SEC road starts this season, where he sports a stellar 0.41 ERA. 

The Wildcats (23-11, 9-4 SEC) posted single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings against Houck, one of the top pitching prospects in the league, and tacked on two more in the sixth.

It remained a 5-0 lead heading into the ninth before the Tigers made it interesting with solo home runs by Trey Harris and Brett Bond against UK reliever Colton Cleary. But Cats closer Logan Salow slammed the door, recording a pair of strikeouts to end the game and pick up his seventh save of the season.

Kentucky's offense got a team-leading sixth home run from second baseman Riley Mahan as well as a three-hit night and an RBI from red-hot outfielder Tristan Pompey. The Cats' Canadian import has now hit safely in 22 of his last 24 games and has a .579 batting average over the last four games.

Missouri (25-10, 6-7 SEC) batters were punched out 12 times in the game. 

Game 2 is slated for Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via and iHeart Radio, as well as on 630 AM WLAP, and watch on the SEC Network.

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