COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The third-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks plated two runs in the first inning and rode a strong pitching performance from freshman righty Forrest Koumas to a 4-1 win, sweeping the series over Kentucky, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in front of 7,513 fans at Carolina Stadium.
Kentucky (15-13, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) fell in the series finale, after battling the Gamecocks in two hotly contested games to open the series. UK fell on Friday night, 3-1 as USC Friday-night ace Michael Roth tossed a gem, then suffered a 4-3 walk-off loss in 10 innings on Saturday, misplaying a pop up in the bottom of the 10th that went as a double, eventual scoring the walk-off run.
South Carolina (22-5, 7-2 SEC) got an outstanding start from Koumas, making his second consecutive appearance in the weekend rotation after twirling six innings at No. 1 Florida last weekend. Koumas went a career-high 6.1 innings, allowing only two hits and issuing just one walk, striking out three without allowing an earned run. He was relieved by submarine right-hander John Taylor in the seventh after allowing a leadoff walk and getting the first out of the frame. Taylor went 2.1 innings before Bryan Harper relieved him and got the final out of the game for his first save of the year.
UK starter Taylor Rogers turned in a quality outing, going 6.1 innings, allowing six hits and three runs – two earned – walking three and striking out five. Rogers allowed the first four hitters he faced in the game to reach, with two runs scoring off three hits in the bottom of the first. Rogers settled in and tossed six consecutive shutout frames, before South Carolina mounted a one-out rally in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of a UK error. Nick Kennedy relieved Rogers and got three outs over the seventh and eighth, before turning it over to lefty Alex Phillips and righty Walter Wijas. Kennedy was charged with an unearned run in his inning.
The Wildcats totaled five hits in the game, as Michael Williams led the way with two hits, including his sixth double of the year, playing third base for the first time in his career, also adding a walk. UK also got a hit from Taylor Black, who stole his ninth base of the year, a RBI single from Luke Maile and a single from freshman J.T. Riddle. UK got hit by a total of five pitches in the game, including Lucas Witt, who was plunked with two offerings in the leadoff spot. The Wildcats left a total of 14 runners on base in the game, including stranding the bases loaded in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
UK returns to action on Tuesday, hosting Xavier at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will 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 WLAP 630-AM or online at UKathletics.com.
The Gamecocks started the scoring off in the first inning, as Peter Mooney singled on a 1-1 pitch through the left side and Scott Wingo laid down a bunt single back to the pitcher. After Jackie Bradley Jr. got hit by a pitch to load the bases, Christian Walker lined a single to leftfield to score Mooney and give USC an early 1-0 lead. After a quick mound visit, Rogers got Adrian Morales to hit into a 4-6-3 ground-ball double play, with Wingo scoring from third.
The Wildcats got on the board with a run in the top of the eighth, cutting the USC lead to 3-1 off Taylor. After Black struck out to lead off, Braden Kapteyn got hit by a pitch, moving to second after a balk was called on Taylor. Riddle then ripped a single up the middle that Wingo made a nice play to keep in the infield, temporarily saving a run. Maile followed and roped a single up the middle to score the first UK run of the game. After Williams drew a walk to load the bases, UK called on Thomas McCarthy to pinch hit, with McCarthy striking out to end the frame.
USC got an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, as Jake Williams led off with a grounder hit to McCarthy and third, whose throw sailed high for an error. After Robert Beary laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Williams to second, Evan Marzilli single up the middle to score Williams and make it 4-1.
GAME NOTES: Catcher T.J. Daugherty made his first career start and Michael Williams registered his first career start at third base … UK starter Taylor Rogers allowed two runs in the first inning, the ninth and 10th runs he has allowed in the first inning this year … Lucas Witt got hit by his second pitch of the year to leadoff the game … Williams collected his sixth double of the year in the third inning, a high drive off the top of the wall … Daugherty laid down his second career sacrifice bunt in the third to move Williams to third base … Daugherty got hit by his first career pitch in the fifth inning … Taylor Black stole his ninth base in 11 tries this year … Mike Kaczmarek got plunked by his first career pitch in the sixth … Rogers turned in his fourth quality start of the year, allowing two earned runs through 6.1 frames … Luke Maile’s RBI single was his 17th RBI of the year and his fourth two-out RBI of the year … Thomas McCarthy snapped his streak of reaching base safely in 15 consecutive games … UK got hit by a team season-high six pitches this year.