Kentucky broke ahead to a two-run lead in the first threeinnings and held off a late rally by top ranked South Carolina to defeat theGamecocks 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium to clinch a weekendSEC baseball series.
The Gamecocks are18-3 and 2-3 in the SEC with Kentucky 17-6 and 3-2 in league play. The series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN3 andcan be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM,"The Game."
Micheal Thomas gave Kentucky a 1-0 lead in the bottom ofthe second inning with a solo homer, his second of the series and fifth of theseason. Thomas jumped on the first pitchhe saw to left field to give the Wildcats the lead. A two-out RBI single by Max Kuhn in the thirdinning gave the Wildcats a two-run edge.
An umpire call in the fifth inning led to the ejection ofSouth Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. Tanner English led off the fifth inning with a base hit. With no outs, Marcus Mooney knocked agrounder into the hole between short and third base. UK shortstop Matt Reida threw over to secondon the fielder's choice. English slidinto second base but was ruled out by umpire Todd Henderson. Holbrook proceeded out to argue the call andwas eventually ejected by Henderson.
"The call didn't go our way," said South Carolina headcoach Chad Holbrook. "I'm not allowed tocomment on the call. I know that I willgo out and argue if I think I'm right. It's up to people analyzing replay to determine whether I was right ornot. I was going out there because Ithought he was safe. It's an emotionalgame. I know that, to the shortstop, itwas a three or four hopper moving to his right and the fastest player in thecountry (English) has a chance to beat it out."
Carolina would get on the scoreboard in the eighthinning. Joey Pankake was hit by a pitchand Kyle Martin singled to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners with noouts. After a sacrifice by Connor Brightmoved both runners into scoring position, Grayson Greiner lifted a sac fly intoleft-center scoring Pankake and cutting the Wildcat lead to a run.
The Gamecocks looked to tie it in the ninth as DC Arendasled off the frame with a double off the wall in right-center, just barelymissing a home run. English would laydown a successful sac bunt to move Arendas to third with one out. UK would make a change to the pen and bringin right-hander Spencer Jack. Jackstruck out Marcus Mooney for the second out of the frame. With two outs and Max Schrock at the plate,UK would go to the pen one more time for left-hander Logan Salow. Salow would induce Schrock into a groundoutat second ending the game.
Kentucky starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd improved to5-0 on the year earning the win. He allowedone run on six hits in 7.1 innings with four walks and six strikeouts. South Carolina left-hander Jack Wynkoopsuffered the loss and is 4-1 on the year. He allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings with one walk and ninestrikeouts.
"We have to win some games on offense sometimes," saidHolbrook. "Sometimes our pitching staffis our pacifier, our security blanket. It's not good enough. We have toswing the bats some, we have to score, we have to get some big hits. We can't try to win games 3-2 all the time orwe are going to have our share of losses. That's what occurred today."
South Carolina had seven hits to Kentucky's six on theafternoon. Arendas finished2-for-4. Pankake extended his hittingstreak to nine games. Micheal Thomas ledUK with a 2-for-3 day at the plate.
Copyright 2014 WIS. All rightsreserved.