No. 28 South Carolina Holds Off UK Rally for 20-19 Win

March 28, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- No. 28 South Carolina jumped out to an early 9-2 lead after two innings and held on to win in a slugfest, holding off 12 unanswered Kentucky runs over in the final three innings – including a three home run game from first baseman Gunner Glad – to post a 20-19 series-opening win over the Wildcats, on a nice Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

South Carolina and Kentucky had 12 batters with two or more hits, including 4-for-6 games by Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Crisp, a 4-for-7 game by Whit Merrifield and 4-for-5 games by Justin Dalles and UK infielder Chris Bisson.

The Gamecocks had 25 of the 43 hits in the game, while the Wildcats posted 18 hits. Of the 43 hits, 11 were round trippers. South Carolina got homers from Bradley Jr., Nick Ebert, Crisp (2), Dalles and Scott Wingo. The big inning for the Gamecocks game in the second inning when they posted six runs on five hits, including three of their six homers. USC also posted five runs in the sixth inning, with three runs on long balls.

Kentucky had its best inning in the seventh inning, when they posted six runs on six hits with homers by Glad and Korus. In the final five inning of the game UK scored 17 runs, 12 of which were unanswered.

Glad entered the game with one homer in 13 at bats on the year. The slugger capped the game with three homers, batting 3-for-5 with a career-high five RBI and five runs scored.

Each team used four pitchers in the game, with South Carolina starting righty Sam Dyson. Dyson went 6.2 innings, giving up eight runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking four. He was replaced by Justin Hopper did not record an out but gave up four runs on four hits. Parker Bangs threw 0.2 of an inning giving up five earned runs on four hits. Alex Farotto, the Gamecock closer, closed the game for USC going 1.2 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and striking out one.

Kentucky started junior James Paxton, who had the worst outing of his career going two innings and allowing 10 hits and nine earned runs. The lefty was replaced on the mound by senior Jonathan Huff who threw three innings for the Wildcats, allowing six runs on eight hits. Chase Greene came into the game, giving up five earned runs on seven hits and Tyler Henry ended the game for the Wildcats replacing Greene in the ninth and getting the final two outs, easily. 

South Carolina mounted a huge rally in the first inning getting three runs on five hits, the first hit and run that Paxton has given up in the first all season. The inning started on back to back singles by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Whit Merrifield, putting runners on first and third with no outs. After a meeting with UK Head Coach Gary Henderson, Paxton struck out first baseman Nick Ebert for the first out. After a walk to DeAngelo Mack, Parker Bangs then placed a two-run single up the middle, but Kentucky did get their second out of the inning when Mack was gunned out at third. Paxton then gave up back-to-back single to Andrew Crisp and Justin Dalles, with Dalles’ single to right field driving in the third run of the inning. Kentucky got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice.

South Carolina came back for more runs in the top of the second inning, getting the first career grand slam off the bat of Ebert. The inning started with a walk of Scott Wingo, then a single by Bradley Jr., and a perfectly placed bunt single by Merrifield. On the first pitch of the at bat to Ebert, he hit a high fly ball to deep left field that used the wind and the short porch in right to break the game wide open for the Gamecocks. Paxton settled down in the next two at bats getting a strikeout and a groundout to short, but Bangs gave USC another run with his seventh homer of the season. After fouling a sharp line drive down the right field line earlier in the at bat, Bangs banged a ball over the left field wall. The Gamecocks weren’t done yet, as Crisp sent a laser shot in the same direction for back-to-back home runs for USC and a nine run lead going to the bottom of the second.  

Kentucky loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning when freshman Braden Kapteyn singled, Glad walked and freshman Corey Farris was hit by a pitch. With two outs and the bases loaded, Bisson put the Wildcats on the board with a single to left field, scoring Kapteyn and Glad. USC got out of the inning on the next pitch when Chris Wade grounded out to the shortstop.

Huff replaced Paxton to start the third inning, starting the inning on a groundout then giving up a single to Bradley Jr. and a double off the right field wall by Merrifield. Bradley Jr., tried to come around and score on the double by was gunned out at the plate on the relay for the second out of the inning. With a runner at second and two outs Huff got out of the inning when Chris McClendon got a line drive down the third base line by Ebert.

The Gamecocks posted four more runs in the fourth inning. The inning started when Huff hit Mack with a pitch later scoring when Bangs doubled to right center field on a perfectly placed and called hit and run. After a lineout by Crisp, Dalles singled to the left side, putting runners on first and third. The next batter was Haney, who grounded into a fielder’s choice to second base that was almost turned into a double play with a close play at first base. Wingo made the Wildcats pay, sending his first homer of the season over the right field wall, giving USC a 13-2 lead going into the bottom of the fourth.

The Wildcats added three runs in the fifth inning on a three-run homer by catcher Marcus Nidiffer. The laser shot over the left field wall was the fifth homer of the year for the Bristol, Tenn., native. The other two runners on base were Bisson, who was hit by a pitch and Korus who singled.

The Gamecocks quickly answered in the top of the sixth getting five runs on five hits, including two homers. Crisp hit a solo shot for the first run of the inning and Bradley Jr. hit a two-run bomb. Wingo also recorded an RBI with a single to center field.

The Wildcats got a leadoff homer from Glad in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was the second homer of the year for Glad. Kentucky scored its second run of the inning when Bisson came around to score when Wade singled through the right side of the infield.

USC answered the two runs Kentucky posted in the sixth with two of their own in the seventh. The first run was scored by Crisp who singled to get on base, later scoring on the single by Bobby Haney. The other run of the inning was scored by Wingo when Bradley Jr. sent a sacrifice fly to left center field.

The Wildcats got six two-out runs in the seventh inning. Wright started the rally when he was hit by a pitch with two outs, then Glad hit his second homer of the game, a two-run dinger off the party deck in right center field. After USC made a pitching change bringing in Justin Hopper, Glad took the first pitch he saw well over the right center field wall. The rallied continued as Kentucky got back-to-back single by Farris and Bisson giving Wade a perfect RBI opportunity that he took full advantage with roping a single up the middle that scored Farris and putting runners on the corners for Korus. The Kentucky third baseman cleared the bases with a long home run to deep right field cutting the Gamecock lead to seven. Freshman Michael Williams kept the rally alive doubling to left center field. The rally ended when Wiley flied out to center field.

Kentucky cut the USC lead to three in the bottom of the eighth inning when Bangs walked three straight batters to load the bases with one out and then gave up back-to-back doubles to Bisson and Wade to plate four Kentucky runs. Bangs’ walks were issued to Wright, Glad and Farris. Bisson drove home Wright and Glad with a sharp double down the right field line, it is his team leading ninth double of the year. The next Kentucky batter was Wade who scorched a ground ball double down the left field line scoring Farris and Bisson. USC then went to their closer, lefty Alex Forotto with Wade on second, one out and Korus up. Korus hit a rope to the right side of the infield but it was caught by the second baseman for the second out of the inning. Williams then struck out looking to end the inning.

The Wildcats needed three runs in the ninth to tie the game but could only get two runs. Kentucky’s two runs came on Glad’s third home run of the game, a two-run shot well over the left field wall. The inning ended on a great play by the shortstop, catching a Farris pop up over his shoulders.