Wildcats sweep Gamecocks on SEC opening weekend

No. 16 Kentucky broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on the way to a 6-3 victory over second ranked South Carolina to sweep a three-game SEC baseball series. The Gamecocks are 15-4 and 0-3 in league play with Kentucky 21-0 on the year and 3-0 in the SEC.

With the game deadlocked in the bottom of the sixth, the Wildcats went ahead for good with three runs. A.J. Reed would lead off with a base hit up the middle off of Gamecock reliever Nolan Belcher. After a pop up for the first out of the inning, the Gamecocks went to the pen for right-hander Joel Seddon against the right-handed hitting Thomas McCarthy. After going to a full count, McCarthy walked to give UK a pair of runners.

South Carolina would go to the pen one more time with left-hander Tyler Webb. J.T. Riddle singled through the left side loading the bases for the Wildcats. With a 1-2 count, UK designated hitter Michael Williams bounced a base hit through the right side scoring a pair of runners and giving Kentucky a two-run lead. Kentucky would make it 6-3 then as Riddle scored on a wild pitch issued by Webb, the first run of the year charged to Webb, in his 12th appearance.

South Carolina looked to rally in the eighth inning with runners on first and second base and two outs with the tying run at the plate. After UK brought in left-hander Sam Mahar, the Gamecocks went with pinch-hitter Brison Celek, who grounded into a fielder’s choice ending the threat. UK reliever Trevor Gott worked a perfect ninth inning to close out the game and the series for Kentucky.

UK reliever Walter Wijas earned the win after 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. He is 2-0 on the year. Belcher took the loss and is 1-1 for the season. Gott picked up his fifth save.

For the second straight day, Kentucky broke ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Zac Zellers drew a one-out walk and would score on Luke Maile’s two-run homer to left field, his fifth round tripper of the season and his second of the series. South Carolina answered in the top of the second with a run. Erik Payne was hit by pitch with one out and scored on LB Dantzler’s RBI double down the right field line.

The Gamecocks would take their first lead of the game with two runs in the top of the fifth inning. Tanner English reached on an infield single and after Marzilli sacrificed him over, would go to third on another infield base hit, this one from Pankake, who beat out the first baseman to the bag on a grounder. With runners on the corners and one out, Christian Walker tallied a RBI ground out to score English. With Pankake on second and two outs, Grayson Greiner delivered with a RBI base hit to left field giving the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead. Kentucky answered in the bottom half of the fifth to tie the game at 3-3 as Austin Cousino doubled with two outs and scored on Zac Zellers RBI base hit to left field.

South Carolina and Kentucky each had 11 hits. Payne, Dantzler, Adam Matthews and Tanner English all had two apiece to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Cousino, Maile and Reed had two apiece to lead the Wildcats.

South Carolina is back in action on Tuesday, Mar. 20 with a non-conference tilt vs. Furman at Fluor Field in Greenville.

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