Sixth ranked Kentucky scored runs in seven of nine innings at the plate on the way to a 19-1 win over 21st ranked South Carolina on Friday night at Founders Park. The Wildcats are now 30-13 overall and 13-6 in the SEC, with the Gamecocks falling to 24-16 and 9-10 in league play.
Sophomore right-hander Sean Hjelle earned the win for Kentucky and is now 7-2 on the year. He allowed three hits with one walk and six strikeouts in six scoreless innings of work. South Carolina junior right-hander Wil Crowe suffered the loss and is now 4-4 on the season. He allowed seven runs, four earned, on 10 hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work.
Kentucky struck first and took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Troy Squires led off with a single up the middle and Tyler Marshall and Marcus Carson both reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases for Connor Heady. Heady singled to left field to score Squires.
The Wildcats added three runs in the top of the third. With Zach Reks on base after a dropped fly ball, Riley Mahan doubled to left field and Squires singled to bring Reks and Mahan home. With the bases loaded, Tristan Pompey singled to right field to score Squires, but Jacob Olson threw Marshall out at home to end the inning.
Kentucky added a run in the fourth inning as Evan White was hit by a pitch to open the frame and went on the score on a wild pitch by Crowe. The Wildcats took an 8-0 lead in the top of the fifth thanks to a three-run homer launched to right center by Pompey.
Kentucky would get three more runs in the sixth, five more in the seventh and three more in the ninth inning.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning. Carlos Cortes singled through the right side and scored on Ross Grosvenor’s RBI double to left field.
A three-run third inning put Kentucky up by four runs and was the first of five innings in which the Wildcats scored more than one run.
Kentucky finished with 20 hits, the most allowed by the Gamecocks in a game this season.
• The Gamecocks turned a season-high four double plays.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
"Obviously a very difficult evening for us, Kentucky played great. [Sean] Hjelle was outstanding on the mound, their hitters, we heard, were some of the best in the country in how they were swinging it as of late. Obviously, that ran true tonight they were just awesome in all facets of the game. Offensively, defensively, their pitching was outstanding and they certainly looked like a team playing at a high level right now. We just weren't good enough to put up a fight against them. It's one game and hopefully we bounce back and make it competitive tomorrow."
The Gamecocks are back in action on Saturday, April 29 for game two with Kentucky. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+ and is also available on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.” South Carolina will honor the 1977 College World Series team that finished as National Runner-Up in a pregame ceremony before the contest. This season is the 40th anniversary of the ’77 team that made it to Omaha under head coach June Raines.