South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks fight back with series win over top-5 Kentucky Wildcats

South Carolina baseball knocked off the top-5 Kentucky Wildcats in 2 of 3 games to keep their NCAA Tournament Regional hosting hopes alive.
South Carolina baseball star Ethan Petry
South Carolina baseball star Ethan Petry / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

South Carolina baseball had the mid-week off from out-of-conference games this week, and fans of the garnet and black hoped that the extra downtime would set their Gamecocks up for a good weekend as they welcomed the top-5 Kentucky Wildcats to town for a three-game series.

That hope was realized as Mark Kingston's club won the series and kept themselves in realistic contention for an NCAA Tournament Regional hosting spot.

In the series opener on Friday, Carolina won an absolute thriller in extra innings. For most of the game, though, it was a pitcher's duel as the two teams were tied 1-1 through eight innings. Roman Kimball was good through 3, and piggy-back reliever Ty Good dominated through the next five frames. He was left in past his arm's expiration point, though, and Kentucky scored 3 runs in the top of the 9th.

The offense was quiet for most of the game (just one run and four hits through eight innings) as a Kennedy Jones single plated Austin Brinling for the only score. However, down by 3, the Gamecocks belted 3 balls over the fence in the 9th to tie the score 4-4 as Blake Jackson, Dalton Reeves, and Gavin Casas put big swings on the ball. Jackson continued playing the role hero in the 10th with a walk-off jack that just cleared the wall in left field to give USC a 6-5 victory.

Game 2 was ugly. After Carolina jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the 1st inning (Jackson was intentionally pegged by Wildcat starter Dominic Niman), Eli Jones surrendered the lead, and the Gamecock bullpen gave up 8 more runs.

The offense was good but couldn't overcome the awful pitching (and defense). An odd defensive alignment that included Gavin Casas at 3B and Talmadge LeCroy at SS cost the team a couple of miscues on balls in play, and despite putting up 13 runs, the Gamecocks fell 15-13.

The series finale was much easier to watch for South Carolina baseball fans as the Gamecock bats smacked around Kentucky starter Mason Moore for 9 runs. It would have been 10 runs, but Austin Brinling and Ethan Petry got crossed up on the basepaths after Petry crushed what would have been a 3-run home run.

Dylan Eskew had the best outing of his career on the mound as he held the 'Cats scoreless through 6 1/3 innings. Connor McCreary came in to finish off the 7-inning 10-run rule drubbing, and the Gamecocks took game 3 10-0 for their third shutout of the season.

The Gamecocks will be back in action on Wednesday with a mid-week contest against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. The game will begin at 6:30 at Founders Park and will be streamable on the SEC Network+.




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