Gamecocks suffer second loss of season to undefeated Kentucky

No. 2 South Carolina raced out to a 3-0 lead but 16th ranked Kentucky rallied back for two runs in the bottom of the seventh and Luke Maile’s two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to center field lifted the Wildcats to a 4-3 win over the Gamecocks.

Kentucky is 19-0 and 1-0 in the SEC while the loss drops Carolina to 15-2 and 0-1 in league play. Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.

With Carolina ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Wildcats opened the frame with a hit by pitch as a low ball from Carolina reliever Evan Beal graced the back foot of Austin Cousino. After a sacrifice bunt, by Zac Zellers moved Cousino into scoring position, Luke Maile drilled a 2-1 pitch that just cleared the center field wall and went off the tip of Marzilli’s glove as he tried to snare the ball back into the ball par. For Maile, it was his fourth home run of the season. He finished with three RBI as well.

Kentucky reliever Tim Peterson earned the win with 0.2 scoreless innings. He is 2-0 on the year. Evan Beal suffered the loss and is now 1-1 on the year. He allowed two runs on one hit with three strikeouts.

South Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Connor Bright led off with a single and Evan Marzilli reached base as well as Kentucky starting pitcher Taylor Rogers could not field the sac bunt attempt by Marzilli cleanly. After Matthews sacrificed both runners over, Bright would score on Christian Walker’s RBI groundout. The lead extended to 2-0 in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Erik Payne to left-center, his second homer of the year. South Carolina added a single run in the top of the sixth inning as Dantzler was hit by a pitch and with two outs scored on Evan Marzilli’s base hit.

Kentucky chipped away with two runs in the seventh inning. With two outs and a runner on first base, Cousino drew a walk and with a 3-2 count Zac Zellers was grazed by a pitch by South Carolina starter Roth on the inside corner to load the bases. South Carolina then went to the pen with Forrest Koumas, who walked Maile to give the Wildcats their first run of the game.

With the bases still full, Tyler Webb came into the game. A.J. Reed would hit a light tapper that got by Webb for an infield single and Cousino scored to cut the Gamecock lead to one run.

Roth finished the game allowing two runs on five hits in 6.2 innings of work. He struck out six batters while walking two. Taylor Rogers allowed three runs, two earned on eight hits in 5.2 innings with four strikeouts and two walks.

South Carolina had 10 hits in the defeat to just seven for Kentucky. Eight of nine starters had at least one hit including 2-for-4 days by Marzilli and Payne. Zellers and Reed each had two hits to lead the Wildcats at the plate.

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