Early Runs, Cleary’s Perfect Relief Appearance Power Cats

Early Runs, Cleary’s Perfect Relief Appearance Power Cats

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky ran its home winning streak to seven to start the season, scoring five runs early and then turning to senior Colton Cleary for a four-inning save in knocking off Miami (Ohio) 6-4 in the first of a three-game weekend series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Showing no hangover from a tough extra-inning road defeat a night before the Wildcats (9-6) came out firing and posted three runs in the first inning on RBI singles from Zach Reks, Kole Cottam and Troy Squires. Reks added another RBI single an inning later and was joined by Luke Becker in the RBI hit parade to push UK’s lead to 5-0 through two innings.
Miami (3-8) would not go quietly, scoring four runs in its half of the third inning on three hits, two hit batters, a walk and a sacrifice fly off UK starter Sean Hjelle. But Hjelle didn’t give up anything else in his five innings of work and handed the ball to Cleary with a two-run lead to start the sixth.
Cleary, a left-hander from nearby Nicholasville, Ky., who transferred from Cincinnati for his senior season was dominant the rest of the night, pitching four hitless innings and striking out four to slam the door and earn his team-leading second save of the season.
Originally scheduled for Saturday, the game was moved up because of predicted inclement weather. Game two remains on its original schedule for a 4 p.m. Friday start and Sunday’s series finale is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch.
The Cats got all the runs they needed in the first two innings, jumping on Miami starter Cole Gnetz for five runs. Senior outfielder Zach Reks led the way with two hits and two RBI, while junior infielder Luke Becker also drove in two. Sophomore outfielder Tristan Pompey and senior outfielder Marcus Carson each scored two runs at the top of the lineup.
Sophomore right-handed starter Sean Hjelle earned his second win of the season in going 5.0 innings and allowing just three hits with a season-high six strikeouts. A pair of hit batters and a walk contributed to the four runs he gave up in the third inning but he was nearly untouchable in his other four innings of work. Senior lefty Colton Cleary earned his second save with four perfect innings of relief work.
Bottom 1st – Marcus Carson jumpstarted the inning with a leadoff walk, moved to third on Tristan Pompey’s single to RF and scored on Zach Reks’ first-pitch single to RF. Kole Cottam’s single to RF scored Pompey and Troy Squires’ RBI single capped the inning. UK 3, Miami 0.
Bottom 2nd – Reks singled to CF to score Connor Heady from second. Luke Becker singled to LF, scoring Carson. UK 5, Miami 0.
Top 3rd – Steve Sada started the inning with an infield single and advanced when Carlos Texidor was hit by a pitch. Both runners advanced on Dallas Hall’s groundout. After J.T. Stone walked, Ross Haffey hit a two-run single to CF and Adam Yacek drove in a run with a SAC fly. Brooks Urich singled to drive in the fourth run of the inning. UK 5, Miami 4.
Bottom 4th – Pompey singled to LF and continued to second on a fielding error by the Miami left fielder. Reks sacrifice bunted to move Pompey to third, who then scored on Becker’s SAC fly. UK 6, Miami 4.
•Senior LHP Colton Cleary a UK career-high 4.0 innings.
     oHe earned his team-leading second save and eighth of his collegiate career.
     oPosted a UK career-high four strikeouts.
     oHis 46 pitches topped his previous high of 28, set twice earlier this season.
     oIn six appearance, Cleary has not given up an earned run.
     oHas given up just three hits in 10.1 innings.
•Sophomore RHP Sean Hjelle earned his second win of the season.
     oHjelle gave up a season-low three hits in his fourth start.
     oHjelle has walked just four batters in 21.2 innings.
•Zach Reks had two RBI and now has seven in three games this week.
UK returns hosts Miami (Ohio) in the middle game of a three-game set at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Friday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. Fans can listen on the UK Sports Network via and iHeart Radio or 98.5 FM in the Lexington area. The game also will be aired on SECN+ via WatchESPN.

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