Kentucky bounced back from an early deficit to beat South Carolina 7-2. Kole Cottam’s solo home run gave UK a 3-2 lead in the fifth and Evan White added a three-RBI double to help the BatCats pull away. Today’s win was the first win in Hoover for UK since the 2014 semifinals.
Coach Mingione went with Brad Schaenzer to start the first game of the week. Schaenzer worked out of jams in the first and second as South Carolina pushed for an early lead. The Gamecocks broke through in the top of the third when they loaded the bases with one out. Alex Destino drove in the first run of the game with a sac fly to score TJ Hopkins. Jonah Bride followed with a RBI double to give USC a 2-0 lead. Schaenzer was able to work out of the third without any further damage.
UK’s offense began to pick up their starter in the bottom of the third. Connor Heady and Tristan Pompey led off with singles and moved up to second and third on Pompey’s knock. Evan White’s first of four RBIs came on a groundout to score Heady. The two things that got in USC’s way today were Evan White and themselves. The Gamecocks committed an error at second base that brought in Pompey to tie the game.
UK went with the committee approach today on the mound. Schaenzer exited after three innings, giving way to Zach Logue. In his first appearance out of the bullpen in 2017, Logue pitched three shutout innings, allowing two hits, and striking out four.
Logue gave UK the consistency they needed on the mound in the middle innings. The junior halted USC’s offense in his three innings as UK got their bats going. Kole Cottam gave UK their first lead of the day with a 415-foot bomb to dead center in the bottom of the fourth. Cottam’s solo homer gave UK all the runs they needed before White came back with some insurance.
With one out in the sixth, UK’s offense did what they do best; grind until a team caves. UK loaded the bases on a pair of singles by Cottam and Heady and a HBP from Marcus Carson. With two outs, White delivered. The All-SEC Defensive First Baseman delivered a RBI double to clear the bases and give UK a 6-2 lead thru six. The four RBIs today gave White 38 on the season alongside a .380 average.
After Logue was pulled to start the seventh, Chris Machamer came on as Kentucky’s final reliever of the day. Machamer dominated the final three frames just as he has over the last month. The freshman picked up his first career save after throwing three shutout innings today. All three pitchers threw three innings today as the starting rotation got the day off. The piggyback start worked out well as Kentucky allowed only two runs from a team that scored seven against Vanderbilt yesterday. After the two runs in the third, UK allowed only three hits the rest of the way and shut out the Gamecocks in the final six innings.
– KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) May 24, 2017
Kentucky picked up a second unearned run of the day in the eighth when Heady laid down a bunt that the pitcher threw away. Marcus Carson came around to score from first to give UK a 7-2 lead. The errant throw was USC’s fourth error of the day.
Machamer finished off the game with a 1-2-3 ninth as UK wrapped up a 7-2 win on Wednesday afternoon. Coach Mingione has to be happy that in his first year, his team is already in a prime spot to make it to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The BatCats will take on the winner of Missouri and LSU tomorrow at a 9 ET. With a win over LSU or another top team, UK could lock up a national seed.
Kentucky will also finish with a 3-1 record over South Carolina in 2017. The Gamecocks fell on hard times this year and are on the wrong side of the bubble at this moment.
The bullpen and starting rotation will be fully rested for the remainder of this tournament. UK did not use Zack Thompson, Logan Salow, Colton Cleary, or Zach Pop today. With Hjelle going tomorrow, the outlook is great for UK on the mound.
Coach Mingione and Evan White talking about the win with the SEC Network crew. pic.twitter.com/hmBNRtaEQo
– Stephen Huntsman (@ThirdandVermont) May 24, 2017
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