South Carolina freshman right-hander Forrest Koumas pitched a career-high 6.1 scoreless innings and was backed by an offense that featured a 3-for-3 day at the plate for Peter Mooney and a two-RBI day for Christian Walker as the third ranked Gamecocks defeated Kentucky 4-1 to sweep a three-game SEC baseball series. Carolina is now 22-5 and 7-2 in the SEC while the loss drops Kentucky to 15-14 and 2-7 in league play.
Koumas, who spent three days in the hospital earlier in the week due to an allergic reaction, was effective in his second career start as he limited the Wildcats to just two hits and one walk while striking out three batters. He is now 3-0 on the year. Kentucky starting pitcher Taylor Rogers suffered the loss and is now 2-3 for the season. He allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Gamecock left-hander Bryan Harper came on in relief and earned his first save as a Gamecock with a strikeout to end the game with the bases loaded.
Carolina broke ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Peter Mooney led off with a single to left field, Scott Wingo reached base on a bunt base hit and Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Christian Walker would drive in Peter Mooney with the first run of the game with a RBI single to left field. Carolina would then go ahead two runs on a double play ground out, 4-6-3, off the bat of Adrian Morales.
Koumas got out of trouble in the third inning. Michael Williams led off with a double for Kentucky and was sacrificed to third base. With one out, Koumas left Williams over at third as he induced Lucas Witt into a foul territory pop out to first baseman Christian Walker and then got the third out of the inning as Chad Wright rolled into a ground out to Walker at first base ending the Wildcats threat. He would also stop another threat by the Wildcats in the top of the sixth. Taylor Black singled with one out and stole second base. Koumas however ended the UK opportunity as he coaxed Braden Kapteyn into a ground out to third baseman Adrian Morales and ended the inning with a Mike Kaczmarek ground out to second baseman Scott Wingo.
Carolina would escape a jam also in the seventh inning. J.T. Riddle led off with a walk for the Wildcats. With one out and Gamecock right-hander John Taylor on in relief, Kentucky got its second base runner on Michael Williams’ single to right field. With two outs, Kentucky loaded the bases on a hit by pitch to Lucas Witt. With the bags full, Kentucky’s two-hole hitter Chad Wright laced a line drive that was caught by Gamecock center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ending the inning and preserving Carolina’s two-run lead.
The Gamecocks added some insurance with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Peter Mooney singled with one out and on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Scott Wingo, a throw from Kentucky’s first baseman Luke Maile was muffed by UK shortstop Taylor Black. In addition to the muffed throw, Mooney reacted and tried to reach third base but ran into Black and interference was called on the UK shortstop, advancing Wingo and Mooney to second and third base respectively. After an intentional walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. loaded the bases, Mooney would score on a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Walker.
Kentucky scratched across its first run in the top of the eighth inning. Braden Kapteyn reached base with one out on a hit by pitch followed by two-out singles from J.T. Riddle and a RBI base hit off the bat of Luke Maile. The Wildcats looked to score more as they loaded the bases after Michael Williams walked on four pitches. With pinch hitter Thomas McCarthy at the plate, Taylor dug deep and struck out McCarthy swinging to keep the Gamecocks ahead 3-1.
South Carolina regained a three-run advantage in the bottom half of the eighth inning. Jake Williams reached base to lead off the inning on a throwing error by Kentucky third baseman Thomas McCarthy. After Robert Beary’s sacrifice bunt moved him into scoring position, Williams scored on Evan Marzilli’s RBI base hit up the middle.
With a 4-1 lead, Kentucky tried one last time to rally against the Gamecocks. Chad Wright drew a one-out walk against Taylor and Braden Kapteyn was hit by a pitch with two outs. That prompted Carolina to go to the bullpen one more time, this time for the left-hander, Bryan Harper. After a walk to Mike Kaczmarek loaded the bases, Harper struck out J.T. Riddle looking to end the game and give the Gamecocks its first SEC sweep of the year.
Carolina had seven hits to just five for Kentucky on the afternoon. Mooney scored two runs as well as his three hits at the plate. Michael Williams went 2-for-3 to lead Kentucky.
Carolina returns to action on Tuesday night hosting USC Upstate in a non-conference tilt at Carolina Stadium. Gamecock sophomore right-hander Patrick Sullivan (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his first career start.