The last two weekends have not been kind to the South Carolina baseball team, especially its pitching staff. After plating seven runs against USC in a win on Friday, Kentucky doubled its output from the night before, scoring in every inning but the first, to notch a 14-7 victory over Carolina. The win clinched the three-game set for the Wildcats, who had lost four straight SEC series entering this weekend. It’s the second straight series loss for the Gamecocks, who allowed 23 earned runs in their matchup with Auburn last weekend.
Part of USC’s struggles of late can be traced to the early innings. Gamecock opponents have scored first in five consecutive SEC games, including today as the Wildcats struck first with a pair of runs in the second inning. However, Carolina (36-10/14-8) responded with a big bop in the third as Cole Messina laced a three-run double into left field to give USC its only lead of the day at 3-2. From there, Kentucky (32-13/13-10) feasted on USC pitching.
After tying the game with a run in the bottom of the third, the Wildcats regained the advantage on a pair of base hits in the fourth. Following the first of two home runs on the day by Gavin Casas to tie the contest at five, UK got a three-run triple in the fifth and a three-run home run in the sixth to assume total control of the afternoon. The home team rounded out its scoring with a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
Casas homered again in the top of the eighth, his 19th of the season, and Ethan Petry singled home a run in the ninth to complete the scoring for South Carolina.
James Hicks, one of three USC pitchers, suffered his first loss of the year in relief of starter Jack Mahoney. Hicks gave up seven runs on six hits in just three innings of work. Mahoney’s start lasted only four innings, as he allowed five runs on seven hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Austin Strikland pitched the final five innings of the game to earn his third win of the year.
The series finale is set for 2pm on Sunday in Lexington, KY.