Kentucky Offense Explodes in Shriners College Classic Opener

Kentucky Offense Explodes in Shriners College Classic Opener

by UK Media Relations

HOUSTON – Luke Heyer hit a pair of home runs and the rest of the offense followed suit as No. 7 Kentucky routed No. 19 Houston, 14-2, in the opener of the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park. The game was called after seven innings due to the event’s mercy rule.
Heyer, who now leads the team with six home runs, belted a two-run shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field to get the Wildcats on the board against 2017 American Conference Pitcher of the Year and NCBWA First-Team All-American left-hander Trey Cumbie. Heyer later smoked a solo shot the opposite way for his first career two-homer game.
It wasn’t just Heyer who found the home of the Houston Astros to his liking. Junior outfielder Ryan Johnson, whose hometown of College Station is just down the road, connected for a double and home run, his third consecutive game with a round-tripper. Junior outfielder Ben Aklinski drilled a bases loaded double in the Cats’ five-run second as part of his four-RBI night and junior first baseman Kole Cottam cleared the high wall in left-centerfield for his 100th career hit.
On the mound, junior Sean Hjelle completed six innings, giving up six hits, two runs (one earned) and earning his 18th career win, moving him into 11th place on UK’s career list. Through three starts the 6-foot-11 righty has a 0.92 earned run average.
The Cats (9-1) have a quick turnaround, facing No. 20 Sam Houston State at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Bearkats erased a three-run deficit in the ninth against Vanderbilt with a pair of home runs and won on a walk-off homer in the 10th inning on Friday.
Top 2nd – T.J. Collett singled to RF and scored on Luke Heyer’s home run to LF. Ryan Johnson doubled to LF. Alex Rodriguez reached on an error. Troy Squires worked a 10-pitch walk to load the bases. Ben Aklinski doubled to RCF, clearing the bases. UK 5, Houston 0.
Top 3rd – Kole Cottam singled up the middle and scored on Johnson’s home run to RF. UK 7, Houston 0.
Top 4th – Trey Dawson walked and scored on Luke Becker’s triple off the CF wall. Cottam homered above the high wall in LCF. UK 10, Houston 0.
Bottom 4th – Joe Davis singled to CF and advanced to second on Jared Triolo’s single up the middle. Davis scored on Tucker Redden’s single up the middle. UK 10, Houston 1.
Top 5th – Heyer homered to RF. Johnson was hit by a pitch and advanced to second when the LF dropped Alex Rodriguez’s fly ball. Johnson scored on Aklinski single to CF. UK 12, Houston 1.
Bottom 5th – Drew Minter reached on an error. Lael Lockhart singled to RF. Both runners advanced on a passed ball. Minter scored on Connor Hollis’ groundout. UK 12, Houston 2.
Top 7th – Squires walked and advanced to third on Aklinski’s double to RCF. Squires scored on Becker’s groundout. Aklinski scored on a passed ball. UK 14, Houston 2.

  • The offense has …
    • Hit a home run in all 10 games this season.
    • Scored 60 runs in the past five games.
    • Recorded 51 extra base hits this season.
  • UK played without All-American OF Tristan Pompey for the fifth straight game. He is out with an ankle injury.


  • Junior RHP Sean Hjelle got the win by going 6.0 innings while giving up six hits and two runs (one earned).

    • Hjelle is now 3-0 with a 0.92 ERA in his first three starts.
    • Hjelle’s 18 career wins move him into a tie with Doug Sutton (1986-88) for 11th on UK’s career list.
    • In two starts in the state of Texas the junior is 2-0 and has given up one earned run in 15.0 innings of work. He threw a complete game shutout at Texas A&M last March.
    • His career winning percentage of .783 (18-5) ranks third on the school’s career list.


  • Junior C/1B Kole Cottam went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBI.

    • Cottam has now reached base safely in all 10 games this season.
    • Cottam became the 51st player in school history to reach 100 career hits with his home run.
    • It was his fourth multi-hit game of the season and 30th career.
    • Cottam now has 19 career multi-RBI games.


  • Junior OF Ryan Johnson went 3-for-3 with a double, home run, three runs scored, two RBI and a HBP while reaching base all four times he came to the plate.

    • Johnson has now homered in three consecutive games.
      • He is the second Wildcat to do that this season, joining T.J. Collett.
    • Nine of his 13 hits this season have been for extra bases (six doubles, three home runs).


  • Senior 3B/OF Luke Heyer went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs, two runs scored and three RBI.

    • Heyer leads the team with six home runs.
    • Heyer is the first UK player to hit two home runs in a game since Riley Mahan vs. Tennessee on May 13, 2017.


  • Junior OF Ben Aklinski went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a run and four RBI.

    • The four RBI are a career high.

The Cats return to the field Saturday morning against No. 20 Sam Houston State at 1 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed at and also will air on AT&T SportsNet SW.

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