LEXINGTON, Ky. — Ka’ai Tom and JaVon Shelby hit back-to-back bombs in the fifth inning and Zach Logue worked 2.2 shutout innings in relief for the win, pacing Kentucky to a 5-3 win over Tennessee to sweep the Vols in a three-game series at home for the first time in program history, on a perfect Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (22-16, 8-9 Southeastern Conference) posted its first series sweep in conference play since a 2012 blanking of Alabama, with UK’s sweep over Tennessee its first three-game sweep in Lexington in series history. UK has now won three weekend series in to open conference play, besting UT, No. 20 Mississippi State and No. 1 LSU.
The Wildcats opened the game with single runs in the first and third innings, allowing a single UT tally in the second. Tom opened up the game with a two-run blast in the fifth inning, with Shelby immediately following with a solo shot over the leftfield fence for a 5-1 UK lead. UT rallied in the ninth to plate two runs for the final margin.
UK starter Andrew Nelson worked 4.1 innings, allowing two hits and one unearned run, walking one and striking out three. The start was Nelson’s second of the week as the senior worked into the fourth inning on a pitch count on Tuesday vs. Western Kentucky, before exiting on a pitch count in the fifth inning. With one out in the fifth, UK turned to lefty Zach Logue (2-1) in relief. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Logue worked 2.2 shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk, striking out two. Logan Salow got UK into the ninth inning with clutch pitching in the eighth, before allowing leadoff runners in the ninth, with Spencer Jack taking the ball with the tying run in the on-deck circle. Jack allowed two hits but got the final two outs for his fifth save of the year and the ninth of his career.
Kentucky collected 12 hits in the game, led by a 3-for-4, three-RBI outing from Tom, a 2014 first-team All-SEC selection. UK also got two-hit games from Shelby, Evan White and Dorian Hairston, with White and Hairston adding doubles. Kyle Barrett added a double, with Marcus Carson and Greg Fettes each collecting hits.
Tennessee (15-20, 5-13 SEC) starter Drake Owenby (2-5) worked 2.1 innings, allowing six hits and two runs, not issuing a walk and striking out four. After allowing a bases-loaded, one-out single in the third inning, sophomore flame-throwing righty Kyle Serrano came on in relief. Serrano immediately got a first-pitch double play to escape the jam. Serrano worked two innings, allowing four hits and three runs, walking one. Hunter Martin tossed 1.2 shutout innings, with Steven Kane working the final two innings.
Kentucky will return to action on Tuesday, playing host to Xavier at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats got on the board in the first inning as White spanked a double off the wall in rightfield with one out, scoring on Tom’s double into the gap.
UT got on the board in the second inning on an unearned run, as A.J. Simcox was hit by a one-out pitch, stole second and took third on an errant throw on the steal attempt. A RBI groundout from Jared Pruett evened the game at 1-1.
In the third inning, UK got one-out single from White and Tom to bring up Shelby. Shelby pounded a ball off the wall in left-centerfield to load the bases, being held to a single. Hairston then fought off a two-strike single to rightfield to score White and give UK a 3-1 lead.
Tom and Shelby powered UK to three runs in the fifth inning, as Barrett led off with an opposite-field double and Tom pounded a two-run homer over the rightfield fence, his third of the year. Shelby then jumped on the first pitch, sending it over the leftfield fence for his fifth homer of the year.
In the ninth inning, UT got a single from Andrew Lee and a one-out double from Simcox. Jordan Rodgers then hung a sacrifice fly and David Houser fought off a two-strike pitch for a single up the middle, scoring Simcox for the final margin.