For the first time in conference play this season, South Carolina has taken the first game in the series, and it comes at an inconvenient time for your Bat Cats. The road to Hoover for Kentucky just got a lot tougher as they lose in Columbia tonight 5-4.
Kentucky came in tied with Alabama for the final spot in the SEC Tournament with South Carolina one game back, so this series will determine if the Cats make it to Hoover this season.
However, Kentucky looked to be up for the challenge as they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first after Ryan Johnson worked a 10-pitch double and would later score on a sac fly by Elliot Curtis.
But, the Gamecocks were game as they came back to take a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
It started in the third, Noah Cambell hit his sixth home run of the year to tie it at one apiece. Then, self-inflicted errors killed the Cats. After a two-base throwing error to kick off the fourth, South Carolina took advantage of the Kentucky mistake with an RBI triple to take the lead. But, another mistake allowed another Gamecock to score on a wild pitch for South Carolina to take a 3-1 lead.
Kentucky wasn’t done just yet though.
Kentucky rallied for three runs in the fifth to retake the lead at 4-3 on a two-RBI single and risky send by coach Fanning as Coltyn Kessler tied the game and TJ Collett put the Cats back on top with a single that scored Shinn.
But, more leadoff mistakes led to more runs for the Gamecocks, this time it was a leadoff walk that came all the way around to score on a squeeze bunt to tie the game at four in the sixth, then a leadoff home run in the seventh by Andrew Eyster allowed the Gamecocks to take a 5-4 lead.
Kentucky would get shutdown Dylan Harley and Brett Kerry as South Carolina took the pivotal game one in a series that will decide who will go to Hoover.
With Kentucky, South Carolina, and Alamaba all fighting for the last spot in Hoover, the Cats MUST win tomorrow to keep any dreams of a postseason alive. If not, South Carolina will take their first conference series of the year and Kentucky’s season will end next week against Vanderbilt.
Kentucky will try to even things up with the Gamecocks and their backs against the wall tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. ET on the SEC Network.
Go Cats @BrentW_KSR