Strieby Homer Lifts Baseball to Improbable Win

LEXINGTON ? Junior Ryan Strieby crushed a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to finish off a dramatic comeback and lift No. 21 Kentucky to an improbable 15-12 victory over seventh-ranked South Carolina on Saturday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

In a tie game in the eighth inning, Justin Scutchfield led off with a walk, but UK could not move him until second baseman Andrew Crisp dropped a Collin Cowgill pop fly on the outfield grass that would have ended the inning.

That brought up Strieby, who hit a mammoth blast on a 2-1 offering over the wall in center to complete the Wildcats? rally. It was his 11th homer of the year. It was the second straight game a late-inning home run won it for UK as John Shelby hit a walk-off bomb in the 11th inning of Friday night?s series opener.

Reliever Andrew Cruse gave up the game-winner, falling to 4-2 on the season. Gamecock starter Forrest Beverly tossed 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits while earning a no-decision.

Kentucky clinched the series victory and will go for a sweep of the Gamecocks on Sunday at 1 p.m. Southeastern Conference earned-run average leader Greg Dombrowski (6-1, 1.86) takes the hill for UK against sophomore right-hander Harris Honeycutt (3-0, 1.95).

The Wildcats trailed 12-6 entering the home half of the seventh inning before sending 12 batters to the plate and tying the game on pinch-hitter Michael Bertram?s two-out, two-run single.

The inning started when Matt McKinney was hit by a pitch. He scored one batter later when Sean Coughlin doubled off the top of the wall. An out later, Justin Scutchfield singled and Shaun Lehmann was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Back-to-back singles by Antone DeJesus and Cowgill plated three before Strieby walked to move both into scoring position. John Shelby struck out swinging for the second out on a check swing call. The decision drew the ire of UK skipper John Cohen, who raced out to argue the call and was eventually ejected.

However, Bertram entered for McKinney and redeemed his coach with the game-tying base hit through the left side. The hit, in Bertram?s lone at bat, extended his hitting streak to nine.

It was a wild contest from the beginning as the two teams combined for five errors in the first three innings and the game was tied 4-4. Carolina broke it open in the fifth with four runs and chased UK starter Craig Snipp.

Snipp took a no-decision after working four innings and allowing eight runs ? five earned ? on 10 hits.

The Gamecocks led off the inning with five straight hits, with Justin Smoak providing the big swing with a two-run double. Kentucky chipped away with single runs in the fifth and sixth, but had chances in those innings for much more.

In the fifth, the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out and only got one run. In the sixth, the bases were full with nobody out and only one run was pushed across.

Smoak led off the seventh with a home run that opened the floodgates for another four-run inning for the USC. Consecutive RBI singles by Crisp and Michael Campbell made it 12-6 and brought on reliever Troy Ragle for his first relief appearance since March 1.

Ragle was just what the doctor ordered, shutting out the Gamecocks in the final 2 1/3 innings and giving up just two singles. He earned the win to move to 1-1 on the year.