STARKVILLE, Miss. - Aaron Tennyson threw the first complete game of his career to lead Kentucky to a 12-5 victory over No. 29 Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon at Polk-Dement Stadium.
The win was the third straight for the Wildcats on a Saturday as they improve to 20-18 overall and 3-13 in the Southeastern Conference. Tennyson has started all three of Kentucky's league wins and is now 5-1 on the season. He scattered 15 hits and allowed five runs - three earned - and struck out three while walking three. Tennyson's longest previous outing was only six innings. The complete game was the first for a Wildcat since Kalen Gibson beat No. 6 South Carolina a year ago.
"Aaron was a warrior today," Kentucky head coach John Cohen said. "He attacked the strike zone and he was not afraid to let Mississippi State put the ball in play. I thought he was masterful. We have been dying for someone to pick up the team and lead the way and hopefully that will rub off on the team tomorrow."
Mississippi State, which entered the game in second place in the SEC Western Division, fell to 26-11 overall and 8-8 in the league. The teams meet in the rubber match of the series on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. Kentucky will send freshman lefty Andrew Albers (3-4, 5.61) to the hill against Bulldog right-hander Jon Crosby (5-1, 2.89). The game can be heard in the Lexington area on WLXO 96.1-FM as well as online at www.UKathletics.com.
For the second straight game, Kentucky jumped on Mississippi State's starting pitcher. The Wildcats tagged Todd Doolittle for seven runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings en route to an 8-0 lead after three innings. Friday night, Kentucky chased starter Adam Johnson after scoring four runs in just 1 2/3 innings.
The Wildcats' got on the board first with a four-run second inning that started when J.P. Lowen reached on an error. Kentucky loaded the bases when Justin Scutchfield was hit by a pitch and Billy Grace walked. Ryan Wilkes then collected the first two of his career-high four RBIs with a double to left center. J.B. Schmidt followed with an RBI single and Antone DeJesus plated Wilkes on a ground out.
"We were a lot more ground ball and line-drive oriented today," Cohen said. "The wind was blowing into the face of the hitters today and they did a nice job keeping the ball low."
The rout was on in the third when Kentucky posted four more runs for an 8-0 lead. Wilkes had an RBI single before DeJesus provided the big blow with a three-run double, which gave him a career-high four RBIs in the game.
"Wilkes is a young guy who is getting better every day and is beginning to figure things out," Cohen said. "He has a very bright future in this league."
Mississippi State cut into the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth but Wilkes answered in the fifth with his third hit of the day -- an RBI single that scored Schmidt, who had four hits. Kentucky added two more runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to reach 12 for the game.
Saturday was the biggest scoring output for the Wildcats in a conference game since late in the 2003 season when they beat Vanderbilt 19-7.
With the game well in hand, Kentucky gave up single runs to Mississippi State in the sixth, eighth and ninth. All three runs were aided by Wildcat errors.
The Bulldogs did register 15 hits, but the only one that went for extra bases came with two outs in the ninth. They stranded 13 runners, compared to nine for the Wildcats.
"The reason they had so many hits was because we wanted them to put the ball in play. We gave them pitches to hit because we had a big lead. It's kind of like the prevent defense in football, you just don't want to give up the big play," Cohen said.
-Kentucky won its third straight league game played on Saturday
-The 12 runs scored by Kentucky were the most for the team in SEC play under John Cohen
-All three Kentucky wins in league play have come when Aaron Tennyson has started
-Tennyson threw the first complete game of the year for Kentucky, Tennyson's previous career high in innings pitched was six innings
-Antone DeJesus and Ryan Wilkes each had a career high four RBIs
-J.B. Schmidt had a career high four hits while Wilkes tied a career high with three hits
-John Shelby hit his team-high fourth triple to extend his season-high hitting streak to six
-Kentucky had back-to-back big innings (four innings or more) for the first time since beating No. 35 Evansville on April 6.
Kentucky Routs No. 29 Mississippi State
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