Walk-off Homer in 10th Lifts No. 7 S. Carolina to 6-4 Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Down to its last strike, Kentucky rallied with two runs in the ninth inning to take a lead but No. 7 South Carolina got a leadoff homer in the bottom of the frame from Elliott Caldwell, and a walk-off homer from Kyle Martin in the bottom of the 10th inning, posting a 6-4 win in front of 7,499 on a perfect Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.
Kentucky (13-6, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) fell behind early after UK dropped a two-out infield pop-up in the first inning that led to a two-out RBI single. UK then misplayed a leadoff fly ball in centerfield that led to a triple and sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, giving the Gamecocks an early advantage. In the sixth inning, UK got to South Carolina freshman starter Clarke Schmidt with a two-run double from Storm Wilson to even up the game.
The Gamecocks immediately responded with a Max Schrock leadoff double, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After pinch hitter Riley Mahan smacked a two-out double to extend the game in the ninth inning, UK got a two-strike RBI hit from Kyle Barrett to tie the game at 3-3. After Barrett stole second base to get into scoring position, Evan White grounded up the middle. USC shortstop Jordan Gore ranged to his left but his throw was not in time, with White beating out the throw and Barrett motoring all the way from second to score the go-ahead run.
UK then turned to senior closer Spencer Jack for the final three outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Elliott Caldwell lofted a 1-2 pitch over the rightfield fence for the game-tying homer, his second homer of the weekend and season.
In the top of the 10th inning UK rallied with a leadoff walk from JaVon Shelby, with Wilson then singling to put runners on the corners. After Thomas Bernal popped up for the first out and Marcus Carson was intentionally walked, South Carolina got Greg Fettes to strikeout swinging with the infield playing on the grass. The next hitter, Mahan lined out hard to leftfield to end the 10th and UK's scoring chance to open extras.
Gene Cone was hit by a two-strike pitch with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, and stole second on a 3-2 pitch to Patrick Harrington, which was called a strike. The throw from Fettes to second base skidded away, allowing Cone to scamper to third base with two outs. UK then called on reliever Andrew Nelson to face Martin. After Nelson got Martin in a 2-2 hole, the senior first baseman pulled his fourth homer of the year over the rightfield well, lifting USC to a 6-4 win.
Kentucky starter Kyle Cody worked 6.1 innings, allowing six hits and three runs, issuing just one walk and striking out four. Of the six hits allowed by Cody, two were dropped fly balls or pop-ups and one was an infield single. The Wildcats used freshman lefty Zach Logue in relief of Cody, with Logue stranding a runner at first base in the seventh inning. Logue worked 1.2 hitless innings with two strikeouts. Jack got two outs in the ninth inning, allowing one hit on the game-tying homer to Caldwell. UK then used lefty Logan Salow (1-1), who was tagged with the loss as his hit batter scored the decisive run in his inning of work. Nelson had a six pitch at-bat to Martin in the 10th inning.
The Wildcats collected doubles in the game from Wilson, Mahan, JaVon Shelby and Marcus Carson, with UK also getting hits from Barrett, White and Zach Arnold.
USC starter Clarke Schmidt worked a strong 6.2 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking two and striking out seven. Vince Fiori and Cody Mincey each worked an inning, with Taylor Widener (1-0) picking up the win with his 1.1 innings of work.
Schmidt opened the game with 4.2 no-hit innings, before Carson doubled down the line, his second two bagger of the weekend. Schmidt finished with 6.2 innings, allowing just four hits and two runs, walking two and striking out seven. With a runner on first and two outs in the seventh, USC turned to Fiori, who escaped the jam.
UK will return to action on Tuesday, playing host to Ohio at 4 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network+ and WatchESPN, with Dick Gabriel and Keith Madison calling the action. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action.
South Carolina (17-3, 3-0 SEC) took advantage of a miscue in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. After Cody got two quick outs and a pop up of Kyle Martin but the ball sailed away from the UK corner infielders, dropping on the mound for a single. Martin then stole second base, scoring on Elliott Caldwell's two-out RBI single through the right side.
A defensive miscue added to the South Carolina lead in the fourth inning, as Cody got Caldwell to fly out to routine centerfield but the ball was lost in the sun, leading to a leadoff triple. Alex Destino then lined a sacrifice fly to leftfield to score Caldwell.
The Wildcats got to Schmidt in the top of the sixth inning, as Barrett led off with a single up the middle and after a pair of outs and a stolen base, Shelby drew his second walk of the game. Wilson then smashed a two-out, two-RBI double into the right-centerfield, evening up the game at 2-2.
GAME NOTES: Junior centerfielder Kyle Barrett started his team-best 95th career game and played in his team-leading 111th career game ... Sophomore second baseman JaVon Shelby made his team-leading 71st consecutive start ... Sophomore rightfielder Storm Wilson laid down his second sacrifice bunt of the year and the seventh of his career ... Shelby has reached base safely in a club-high 10 consecutive games after a second-inning walk ... Junior catcher Zach Arnold threw out his second runner trying to steal in 2015 ... Sophomore outfielder Marcus Carson ripped his second double of the year and the fifth of his career ... Arnold was hit by pitch for the second time in 2015 ... Barrett stole his fourth and fifth bases of the year and has 19 in his career ... Wilson doubled for the first time in 2015 and the seventh time in his career ... Freshman lefty Zach Logue appeared in his seventh game of the year ... Shelby extended his team-high six-game hitting streak ... Senior righty Spencer Jack appeared in his seventh game of the year and the 33rd of his career ... Sophomore lefty Logan Salow appeared in his team-high eighth game of the year and the 31st of his career ... Wilson stole his team-best sixth base of the year ... Shelby doubled for the third time in 2015 and the ninth time in his career ... UK played in its second extra-inning game of the year and its first since a 14-inning marathon vs. Nebraska-Omaha in Port Charlotte, Fla. ... UK played its 40th extra-inning game since 2003, including 19 under coach Gary Henderson ... South Carolina leads the all-time series, 47-34, including a 28-10 all-time mark in games played in Columbia, S.C. ... South Carolina has now won nine consecutive games against UK in Carolina Stadium and 11 consecutive games in Columbia.