Gamecocks Open Doubleheader With Win Over Kentucky

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By Sports Department

Columbia, S.C. (USC SID) – Trailing by two runs, 14th ranked South Carolina rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and added an insurance run in the seventh to defeat 17th ranked Kentucky 5-2 on Saturday afternoon in game one of a doubleheader at Carolina Stadium.

The Gamecocks are 29-10 and 9-7 in the SEC with Kentucky dropping to 24-13 and 7-9 in league play. Game two of the doubleheader will start at 4:40 p.m.

After spotting Kentucky a pair of runs in the top of the 6th, South Carolina answered with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead. Back-to-back home runs from Joey Pankake and LB Dantzler tied the game. With one out, Pankake drilled a 0-1 pitch from Reed over the wall in left field for his eighth home run of the season. Dantzler followed with his 11th homer of the year as he launched the first pitch he saw from Reed over the right field wall. The hit parade continued with Max Schrock, who knocked a double off the wall in right field. He would score on Brison Celek’s RBI single to left-center. The Gamecocks took advantage of a UK miscue to score the fourth run of the inning. Connor Bright knocked a two-out double to left field. On the relay into the infield, UK shortstop Matt Reida threw past second baseman J.T. Riddle, allowing Celek to score from third to home.

The Gamecocks added an insurance run in the seventh inning. Chase Vergason led off with a single with Pankake reaching base with a single for his second hit of the afternoon. With two outs and both runners in scoring position, Max Schrock lifted a sac fly into center field scoring Vergason and giving the Gamecocks a three-run cushion.

Both starters had quality outings for their respective teams. South Carolina starting pitcher Nolan Belcher earned the win and is now 6-3 on the year. He allowed two runs on six hits in 7.2 innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland picked up his third save of the season with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts. Kentucky starting pitcher A.J. Reed suffered the loss and is 2-5 on the year. He worked 5.1 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

The Gamecock offense belted 14 hits in the contest with eight of the nine position starters recording at least one hit. Bright tied a career-high with three hits and a double. Vergason, Pankake, Schrock and English had two hits apiece as well. Kentucky’s seven-hit day featured two-hit games from Kyle Barrett and Zac Zellers.

Scoreless entering the top of the sixth, Kentucky would score a pair of runs against Belcher. The senior left-hander had retired 12 in a row before a one-out single by Kyle Barrett. Belcher appeared to have Barrett picked off for the second out of the inning but the throw by Dantzler over to second base could not be handled and Barrett was in scoring position with a stolen base. With a 3-2 count, Zellers drilled his second home run of the season over the left field wall to give UK a two-run lead.

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