KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee left-handed starter Andy Cox took a no hitter into the seventh inning and finished throwing a 125-pitch gem in 7.2 innings, to lead the Volunteers to a series-clinching 5-1 win over No. 25 Kentucky, on a perfect Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Kentucky (28-19, 10-14 Southeastern Conference) fell victim to the strong pitching performance from Cox, a day after UT senior Nick Williams – the brother of former UK catching star Michael Williams – fired a 128-pitch gem to even the series. Cox, who threw 125 pitches, carried a no hitter into the seventh inning, before surrendering a bunt single. It marked the third gutsy pitching performance from a UT starter vs. UK the last two years, as Zack Goldey fired a 130-pitch complete-game shutout in a win at UK in 2013.
Cox (4-1) finished with 7.2 innings, allowing two singles and one run, walking six and striking out seven. Cox lowered his ERA to 1.87 in 63.2 innings, allowing only 35 hits – 30 singles. UT used Peter Lenstrohm to get the final out of the eighth, before Andrew Lee took over to start the ninth. Lee worked the ninth inning, allowing a hit and a walk, striking out two.
The Wildcats collected three hits in the game, with Storm Wilson, Ka’ai Tom and Matt Reida each singling. Reida’s bunt single broke up the no hitter in the seventh, with Wilson extending his hitting streak to seven games with a ninth-inning single. UK drew seven walks in the game, including four to lead off innings.
UK starter Andrew Nelson (1-5) worked 4.2 innings, allowing two hits and two runs, walking two and striking out one. Freshman Logan Salow came on with a runner on second and two outs in the fifth, getting an out to escape the jam. Salow got two outs, allowing two hits and three runs, walking one. Spencer Jack came on with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, allowing a texas-leaguer before getting out of the jam with a 1-2-3 double play. Jack worked 2.2 shutout innings for the Wildcats, allowing just a hit and striking out two.
UK will return to action on Friday, hosting Auburn in the final three home games of the 2014 regular season.
Tennessee (28-17, 10-14 SEC) took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Will Maddox singled with two strikes to lead off the inning, stealing second and then taking third on a sacrifice bunt. Christin Stewart then lined a sacrifice fly to rightfield, scoring Maddox.
The Vols added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Taylor Smart drew a walk to lead off the frame, taking third on Vincent Jackson’s single down the rightfield line. Tyler Schultz then laid down a sacrifice bunt to score the second run of the game.
UT rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning, as A.J. Simcox drew a full-count walk to lead off the inning, taking second on a wild pitch. Stewart then lined a double into the left-centerfield gap, scoring Simcox. After a lineout kept Stewart at second base, Scott Price hit a liner to Kuhn at third base, with Kuhn leaping to get a glove on it but the ball skidded out of his outstretched mitt, allowing Stewart to take third. Smart then bunted the ball down the first-base line, with Salow’s barehanded flip to the plate just late, with Stewart sliding in ahead of the tag. After Jack was hit by a pitch to load the bases, UK turned to Jack. Jack got a pop up into shallow leftfield, with the ball falling in no-man’s land for an RBI single.
UK got on the board in the top of the seventh, breaking up Cox’s no hitter. Thomas led off the inning with a walk and Wilson was hit by a pitch. Reida then popped up a bunt on the grass on the third-base line, with the ball jamming into the turf for the first hit of the game for UK. After a big strikeout from Cox, Cousino hit into an RBI fielder’s choice to score Thomas from third base.