No. 7 South Carolina Clinches Series with Saturday Win
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Alex Destino and Elliott Caldwell each launched two-run homers, lifting No. 7 South Carolina to a 4-3 win over Kentucky to clinch the three-game series, on a cloudy Saturday evening in front of 7,025 at Carolina Stadium.
Kentucky (13-5, 0-2 SEC) suffered the loss after the Gamecocks got a two-run homer from Destino - the preseason SEC Freshman of the Year by Baseball America - in the second inning, and a two-run homer from Elliott Caldwell in the sixth. The Gamecocks then rode a strong start from junior southpaw Jack Wynkoop (4-1) to the series-clinching win, with USC turning three double plays to kill UK rallies in the first seven frames.
The Wildcats mounted a rally in the eighth inning to chase Wynkoop from the mound and force the Gamecocks to turn to closer Taylor Widener. UK plated two runs in the eighth to cut it to a one-run game but Widener finished off the game for his sixth save of the year.
The Wildcats were led at the dish by a two-hit game from JaVon Shelby and Kyle Barrett, and a RBI double from Marcus Carson. UK also got hits from Evan White, Ka'ai Tom, Thomas Bernal and Greg Fettes.
UK starter Dustin Beggs (2-2) suffered the loss, surrendering the go-ahead homer to Destino. Beggs worked 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and four runs, walking five and striking out six. With a runner on first and one out in the seventh inning, UK turned to freshman lefty Brad Schaenzer, who got a pair of outs, while working around a walk. Sophomore Logan Salow took over with a runner on first and no outs in the eighth inning, striking out two in a perfect frame.
Wynkoop worked 7.1 innings, allowing just seven hits and two runs, walking one and striking out five. Widener worked the final five outs for the save, allowing one run on two hits.
The series will conclude on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network+ and WatchESPN, with former USC great Trey Dyson on the call. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on Fox Sports Radio 1580-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
South Carolina (16-4, 2-0 SEC) struck first in the bottom of the second inning as Elliott Caldwell led off with a single into right-centerfield. Alex Destino then smashed a two-run homer inside the foul pole down the rightfield line, his fourth of the year.
UK mounted a rally in the top of the fourth inning, as Tom led off with a double, taking third on Shelby's single to left. After Wilson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Bernal came to the plate with no outs. Bernal ripped a low pitch right at second baseman Marcus Mooney, who caught the liner and stepped on second to double up Shelby. After the twin killing, Carson stepped up with a two-out RBI double to left-centerfield, scoring Tom for UK's first run.
South Carolina added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth inning as Kyle Martin drew a leadoff walk, scoring on Caldwell's first career homer.
UK rallied in the eighth inning to chase Wynkoop, as White singled to leadoff, taking second on a groundout from Tom. After Shelby was hit by a Widener pitch, the two moved up to scoring position on a wild pitch. Wilson then hung his first sacrifice fly of the year to rightfield, scoring White. Bernal then delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle, scoring Shelby for a 4-3 game.
GAME NOTES: Junior centerfielder Kyle Barrett started his team-best 94th career game and played in his team-leading 110th career game ... Sophomore second baseman JaVon Shelby made his team-leading 70th consecutive start ... Junior right-hander Dustin Beggs made his fifth career start ... Barrett notched his eighth two-strike hit of the year to open the game ... Junior leftfielder Ka'ai Tom ripped his team-best sixth double of the year and the 19th of his career ... Sophomore rightfielder Storm Wilson was hit by his fifth pitch of the year and the 20th of his career ... Sophomore Marcus Carson doubled for the first time in 2015 and the third time in his career ... Wilson hung his first sacrifice fly of the year and the fourth of his career ... Freshman lefty Brad Schaenzer appeared in his fifth game of the year ... Sophomore southpaw Logan Salow appeared in his seventh game of the year and the 30th of his career ... South Carolina leads the all-time series, 46-34, including a 27-10 all-time mark in games played in Columbia, S.C. ... South Carolina has now won eight consecutive games against UK in Carolina Stadium and 10 consecutive games in Columbia ... The home team has now won the series meeting between the teams in 11 of the last 12 meetings ... UK is now 4-1 in one-run games in 2015.