LEXINGTON, Ky. — Michigan State junior right-hander David Garner shut down No. 10 Kentucky on Saturday, pitching 8.1 innings while giving up just two hits and one run in a 6-1 win for the Spartans.
The Wildcats’ only run came off a solo home run in the eighth inning by Paul McConkey. Garner was riding a shutout into the eighth inning and had six strikeouts for MSU. UK fell to 12-2 while MSU improved to 6-6.
“David [Garner] was very, very good,” head coach Jake Boss said. “He was really in control the whole way. He threw three pitches for strikes, got ahead in the count and got a lot of swings and misses. That was as good as I’ve seen him.”
Michigan State defeated its seventh ranked team since 2000, and the second-highest ranked in that span.
“It’s a good win, there is no doubt,” Boss said. “Kentucky is a very good ball club but we understood that we needed to play well. It’s a good win but it’s just one win. We play 56 games. It’s one win in a long season and hopefully we can build on the momentum for [the final game of the series].”
Anthony Cheky broke open a scoreless game in the top of the third inning with a solo home run to right field.
Garner retired his first 11 batters and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, giving up his only other hit, also to McConkey, on a single up the middle. Garner held the Wildcats to just one run against a Kentucky team that entered the weekend leading the NCAA in runs with 10.3 per game.
Cheky added a run in the top of the sixth after leading off the inning with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Jordan Keur. The Wildcats pulled starter Jerad Grundy after 5.2 innings of work. He gave up six hits and two runs and was replaced by Ryan Combs.
The Spartans extended their lead to 3-0 after an RBI single from senior Joel Fisher that scored Ryan Richardson.
Fisher came through again in the eighth inning, getting his third hit and second RBI on a double down the left field line. On the next at-bat, Justin Hovis delivered a two-run single up the middle, scoring both Fisher and Blaise Salter.
“Our guys did a really great job of competing and they understand the situation of the game and what needed to be done,” Boss said. “Justin Hovis had a huge two-out hit up the middle to drive in two and that gave us a bit of a cushion.”