Trailing by two runs, 14th ranked South Carolina rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and added an insurance run in the seventh to defeat 17th ranked Kentucky 5-2 on Saturday afternoon in game one of a doubleheader at Carolina Stadium.
After spotting Kentucky a pair of runs in the top of the 6th, South Carolina answered with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead. Back-to-back home runs from Joey Pankake and LB Dantzler tied the game. With one out, Pankake drilled a 0-1 pitch from Reed over the wall in left field for his eighth home run of the season. Dantzler followed with his 11th homer of the year as he launched the first pitch he saw from Reed over the right field wall. The hit parade continued with Max Schrock, who knocked a double off the wall in right field. He would score on Brison Celek's RBI single to left-center. The Gamecocks took advantage of a UK miscue to score the fourth run of the inning. Connor Bright knocked a two-out double to left field. On the relay into the infield, UK shortstop Matt Reida threw past second baseman J.T. Riddle, allowing Celek to score from third to home.
The Gamecocks added an insurance run in the seventh inning. Chase Vergason led off with a single with Pankake reaching base with a single for his second hit of the afternoon. With two outs and both runners in scoring position, Max Schrock lifted a sac fly into center field scoring Vergason and giving the Gamecocks a three-run cushion.
Both starters had quality outings for their respective teams. South Carolina starting pitcher Nolan Belcher earned the win and is now 6-3 on the year. He allowed two runs on six hits in 7.2 innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland picked up his third save of the season with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts. Kentucky starting pitcher A.J. Reed suffered the loss and is 2-5 on the year. He worked 5.1 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
The Gamecock offense belted 14 hits in the contest with eight of the nine position starters recording at least one hit. Bright tied a career-high with three hits and a double. Vergason, Pankake, Schrock and English had two hits apiece as well. Kentucky's seven-hit day featured two-hit games from Kyle Barrett and Zac Zellers.
Scoreless entering the top of the sixth, Kentucky would score a pair of runs against Belcher. The senior left-hander had retired 12 in a row before a one-out single by Kyle Barrett. Belcher appeared to have Barrett picked off for the second out of the inning but the throw by Dantzler over to second base could not be handled and Barrett was in scoring position with a stolen base. With a 3-2 count, Zellers drilled his second home run of the season over the left field wall to give UK a two-run lead.
Brison Celek's RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning lifted 14th ranked South Carolina to a 7-6 win over 17th ranked Kentucky in game two of a doubleheader at Carolina Stadium on Saturday night. The win clinched a doubleheader sweep on Saturday and the weekend series as the Gamecocks improve to 30-10 and 10-7 in the SEC while the loss drops the Wildcats to 24-14 and 7-10 in conference action.
Left-hander Tyler Webb earns the win and improved to 2-1 on the season. The senior pitched three scoreless innings of relief allowing just one hit while striking out four batters. Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery hurled 5.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, two walks and striking out seven batters. Trevor Gott suffered the loss for Kentucky. The right-hander pitched 2.2 innings, allowed one run on five hits, walked one and struck out two batters. The loss was Gott's first defeat in 46 appearances, his last loss coming in his freshman season. Kentucky's loss was also the Wildcats first defeat when leading after the seventh inning in 64 games, dating back to 2011.
Kentucky took a 1-0 lead over South Carolina in the top of the second. Back to back singles from J.T. Riddle and Greg Fettes put two runners on for the Wildcats and Riddle made it to third when Tanner English misfielded a ball in center field. A squeeze bunt by Matt Reida would bring in Riddle and put Kentucky on the board.
The Gamecocks responded with two runs in the bottom of the second to take a 2-1 lead. Max Schrock opened the frame with his fourth home run of the season, sending a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right field. Grayson Greiner would then reach base on a throwing error by the Kentucky shortstop and scored the go-ahead run when English crushed a ball to deep right-center field for a triple.
South Carolina added three runs in the bottom of the third, increasing its lead over Kentucky to 5-1. Chase Vergason led off the inning by hammering a ball to right field, just shy of going over the wall for a double. After advancing to third when Pankake grounded out to the Kentucky shortstop, Vergason scored as LB Dantzler doubled to deep right center field. Schrock would then single for his second hit of the game and put runners on the corners. He quickly stole second and a wild pitch from UK starter Jerad Grundy would advance him to third and bring home Dantzler. Greiner drove in Schrock for the final run of the inning with RBI single to center.
In the top of the sixth, Fettes cut South Carolina's lead to 5-3 with a two-run homer over the left field wall.
The Wildcats broke ahead 6-5 in the top of the seventh after a three-run homer off the bat of A.J. Reed. Kyle Barrett was hit by a pitch to open the frame and advanced to second on a wild pitch. A walk to Zac Zellers put two runners on first and second for Reed, who launched a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall.
South Carolina tied the score at 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth. Greiner reached base on a fielding error by the Kentucky third baseman Max Kuhn to start the inning. After Connor Bright sacrificed him into scoring position, Greiner advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Graham Saiko's two-out RBI single to right field.
In the bottom of the 11th the Gamecocks rallied and secured the victory in walk-off fashion. Pankake and Kyle Martin opened the inning with consecutive singles and set the stage for Celek who knocked a 3-1 pitch to left field and drove in Pankake for the winning run.
The Gamecocks tallied 14 hits against the Wildcats including six for extra bases. Dantzler was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored. Pankake finished with three hits in the game and a run scored and Greiner added two hits, a RBI and scored two runs.
The series finale between the Gamecocks and the Wildcats is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday and is available on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM, "The Game." It can also be heard at GamecocksOnline.com on the All Access Channel.