COLUMBIA, S.C. -- After Kentucky junior starter Alex Meyer allowed two runs in the first inning the right-hander settled in and tossed a complete-game outing, but No. 3 South Carolina rode a dominating performance from junior southpaw Michael Roth to a 3-1 series-opening win, on a gorgeous Friday night, in front of 7,063 fans at Carolina Stadium.
A 6-foot-9, 220-pound native of Greensburg, Ind., Meyer (3-4) turned in a strong outing, battling through eight complete innings for his second complete-game outing of the year. Meyer allowed two runs on two hits in the first inning, with South Carolina scrapping one run across on a solo homer off the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth inning. The junior allowed only six hits and three runs, walking five and striking out eight, good for his team-high equaling fourth quality start of the year. In allowing the solo homer in the fifth, Meyer allowed his first homer of the year and just the fourth extra-base hit he has surrendered in 49.2 innings in 2011. On the year, Meyer has struck out 62 and held opponents to a .214 batting average.
Meyer and Roth (6-1) battled in a pitching duel through the nine innings, with Roth allowing only one run – coming as a two-out RBI single from Chad Wright in the top of the third. Roth, the pitching hero from USC’s run to the NCAA Championship in 2010, tossed eight innings, allowed only three hit and one run, walking one and striking out six. South Carolina star closer Matt Price picked up his seventh save of the year with the final three outs of the game.
Kentucky (15-12, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) managed to put together four hits and one walk in the game, also getting plunked by two pitches. Wright had UK’s lone RBI, while the Wildcats also got hits from Braden Kapteyn and Thomas McCarthy, with sophomore centerfielder Brian Adams doubling in the eighth inning.
South Carolina (20-5, 5-2 SEC) got two hits from All-America outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 2-for-3 with an RBI and an intentional walk. Peter Mooney made several standout plays defensively at shortstop and belted his first career homer to give USC a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
The series will resume on Saturday, with first pitch at Carolina Stadium set for 4:30 p.m. ET. UK will send freshman southpaw Corey Littrell (4-1, 5.17 ERA) to the mound to take on South Carolina sophomore righty Colby Holmes (2-0, 4.00 ERA). The game will be televised live on Fox Sports South, available in Lexington on Insight channel 52 or in high definition on Insight-Lexington channel 929. The game will also be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM in addition to coverage on UKathletics.com.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the first inning, as Mooney drew a full-count walk to lead off the inning and Scott Wingo got hit by a fastball on the first pitch of his at bat. After working Bradley to a 2-2 count, he connected on a fastball, sending a liner into the left-centerfield gap, which was quickly scooped up by Adams to hold Bradley at first, moving Wingo to third and scoring Mooney. Christian Walker then hit a hard grounder into the hole on the left side and Black made a nice backhanded grab and flip to get Bradley at second, with Wingo scoring on the fielder’s choice.
The Wildcats answered with a run in the top of the third, as Michael Williams drew a walk to lead off, moving to second on Adams’ sacrifice bunt. After Witt grounded out to shortstop, Wright laced a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Williams from second base. The hit was the team-high 13th two-out hit from Wright on the year and his seventh two-out RBI in 2011.
South Carolina got the run back in the bottom of the fifth, as Mooney connected on a first-pitch offering from Meyer and turned on it, sailing the ball over the rightfield fence for his first career homer. The home run was the first allowed by Meyer this season and just the fourth extra-base hit allowed in his first 33 hits allowed on the year.