Lexington, KY -
Kentucky scored nine runs in the first two innings on the way to 13-5 victory over top ranked South Carolina on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. South Carolina falls to 18-2 and 2-2 in the SEC with Kentucky now 16-6 and 2-2 in league play.
All nine Kentucky starters had at least one hit with seven of the nine driving in at least one run. Thomas Bernal went 3-for-4 with Max Kuhn, A.J. Reed and Matt Reida with two hits apiece. The Gamecocks had 10 hits as well with Joey Pankake 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI and Kyle Martin 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Kentucky starting pitcher A.J. Reed earned the win and is now 4-1 on the year. He allowed five runs, three earned, on nine hits in eight innings of work with two strikeouts. South Carolina junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery suffered the loss and is now 3-2 on the year. He allowed nine runs, seven earned, on 10 hits in two innings of work.
“On Friday nights in this league, if you don’t get a quality start it is difficult to win,” said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. “That being said, we didn’t help (Jordan) any defensively in the first inning with two errors that contributed to their three runs. We need to pitch and play defense a lot better on a Friday night to win and we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win tonight.”
South Carolina touched Reed for a run in the top of the first inning. Marcus Mooney led off the game with a double down the right field line and scored on Joey Pankake’s one-out RBI single to right. Pankake extended his hitting streak to eight games with the base hit.
Kentucky answered with three runs in the bottom of the first and took advantage of a pair of Gamecock errors to score two unearned runs. Kyle Barrett led off with a double down the left field line. After Max Kuhn walked with one out, Reed would knock a double into left-center. Barrett would score as would Kuhn as Tanner English juggled the fielding attempt in left-center allowing Kuhn to score from first base. A fielding error by Max Schrock at second base would allow Ka’ai Tom to reach base with two outs and Thomas Bernal would help UK take advantage as his two-out infield single up the middle scored Reed.
The Wildcats scored six more runs in the bottom of the second with five of the six runs courtesy of six consecutive two-out hits. JaVon Shelby led off with his second homer of the year. Shelby knocked the first pitch he saw over the left field wall giving UK a three-run cushion. After Montgomery retired the next two batters, UK went to work with two outs as Kunn singled followed by a base hit by Reed. Michael Thomas fought in a 1-2 count against Montgomery and in the seventh pitch of the at bat homered to left field to put Kentucky ahead 7-1. Three more two-out singles including a base hit by Matt Reida gave the Wildcats a 9-1 lead.
An unearned run increased the Kentucky lead to 10-1 in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Austin Cousino singled to left field extending his hitting streak to 17 games. He would steal second base and then steal third. On his second stolen base, third baseman Joey Pankake muffed the throw from Gamecock catcher Grayson Greiner and Cousino raced home for the Wildcats’ 10th run of the game. Kentucky added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
South Carolina would put a pair of runs across in the top of the sixth. Joey Pankake belted his second home run of the season to left field. Kyle Martin would follow with a double and scored on Grayson Greiner’s two-out RBI single.
Carolina added two more runs in the eighth taking advantage of a pair of fielding errors by Shelby at second base. DC Arendas led off with a single with both Pankake and Martin reaching base on Shelby’s errors. Arendas would score on the second one. Pankake scored on a sac fly off the bat of Logan Koch, his first career RBI in a Gamecock uniform.
The series continues on Saturday with first pitch at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on FOX Sports South with Tom Werme and Larry Conley on the call. It can also be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station 107.5 FM, “The Game.” Andy Demetra and Tommy Moody have the radio call.