Kentucky Falls in Walk-Off Fashion to No. 23 South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – For the seventh time this year in a Southeastern Conference game, the Kentucky baseball team lost in its opponents final at bat as No. 23 South Carolina walked off with a 12-9 victory over the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon at Sarge Frye Field.
The loss dropped Kentucky to 29-26 overall and 7-21 in the SEC. UK lost game two of an SEC series for the first time in seven outings. With the win, South Carolina clinched a spot in next week’s conference tournament with a 15-14 league mark and improved to 36-19 overall.
In a tie game with two outs in the top of the eighth, Collin Cowgill played the hero for Kentucky when he launched an 0-2 pitch over the wall in centerfield for his first career grand slam and a 9-5 Wildcat lead.
However, the lead would not last long. In the bottom half of the inning, South Carolina loaded the bases on a walk and a pair of infield singles before Neil Giesler tied the game with two outs on his own grand slam. Kentucky looked to answer in the ninth as Billy Grace worked his way to third, but was stranded there when Michael Bertram struck out swinging.
A lead off single by Michael Campbell was followed by a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to set the stage for Steven Tolleson’s three-run walk-off home run. All seven of the Gamecocks runs in the final two innings came off Kentucky reliever Brock Baber, who took the loss to fall to 2-3.It is the 14th time in 21 conference losses Kentucky has held a lead before losing.
Antone DeJesus gave Kentucky the lead first when he led off the game with a home run. It was his third homer of the year and the first time this season a Wildcat has hit a leadoff home run.
South Carolina answered with two runs in the bottom of the first before Kentucky tied it an inning later on Cowgill’s RBI single. Cowgill finished with a career-high five RBIs.
In the fifth, the Gamecocks used a pair of long balls to make it 5-2. Campbell hit a solo shot with two outs and Tolleson followed with a double to set up Steve Pearce’s two-run homer.
Kentucky answered immediately when Shaun Lehmann doubled and scored on a DeJesus single. Ryan Wilkes, who walked prior to DeJesus at bat, scored on a J.B. Schmidt sacrifice fly.
Lehmann knotted the game at 5-5 in the seventh when he drew a lead off walk and eventually scored on a throwing error by Pearce at first base.
The team’s meet in the series finale on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Freshman left-hander Andrew Albers (4-5, 4.50) takes the hill for Kentucky against sophomore left-hander Arik Hempy (1-0, 2.20)