No. 27 Kentucky defeats No. 2 South Carolina for second time in two days
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Micheal Thomas blasted his second home run in as many days and Chandler Shepherd worked into the eighth inning, boosting No. 27 Kentucky to a series-clinching 2-1 win over No. 2 South Carolina on Saturday.
Kentucky (17-6, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) posted a 13-5 win over South Carolina to open the series on Friday, before using a second-inning homer from Thomas and a two-out RBI single from Max Kuhn in the third for the difference on Saturday.
Shepherd (5-0) worked 7.1 innings, allowing six hits and one run, walking four and striking out six. Shepherd exited with one out in the eighth inning with Kentucky holding a 2-0 lead and two runners on base. Shepherd has now worked four consecutive quality starts and owns five in his three-year career. Over his last four starts, he has a 4-0 record and a 0.90 ERA, allowing three earned runs in 30 innings, striking out 25.
With two runners in scoring position and one out in the eighth, Kyle Cody came on in relief, making his first appearance since a start vs. Eastern Michigan on March 1. Cody got two outs to escape the eighth-inning jam and then surrendered a leadoff double to start the ninth inning. After getting an out on a sacrifice bunt that pushed the game-tying run to third base with one out, the Wildcats turned to junior righty Spencer Jack to face leadoff hitter Marcus Mooney.
Jack struck out Mooney for the biggest out of the game, with Kentucky then turning to freshman lefty Logan Salow to face dangerous left-handed hitter Max Schrock, who had belted a game-tying, pinch-hit homer last week against Ole Miss in the ninth inning. Salow got Schrock to groundout to JaVon Shelby at second base to end the game and pick up the first save for the Wildcats in 2014.
The loss for the Gamecocks was just their third in the first 21 games to open the year, with South Carolina owning a 17-0 record to open the year. The Gamecocks entered the weekend leading college baseball in ERA, with Kentucky leading the nation in runs scored.
Thomas, the SEC's leading hitter with a .425 average, belted his fifth homer of the year in a 2-for-3 game. Kentucky also got hits from Kuhn, Shelby, Kyle Barrett and Ka'ai Tom, with Kuhn's two-out RBI single marking his second game-winning RBI of the year and the eighth of his career.
South Carolina (18-3, 2-3 SEC) starter Jack Wynkoop (4-1) worked seven innings, allowing five hits and two runs, issuing one walk and striking out seven. Cody Mincey took over to start the eighth, working one shutout inning, striking out two.
Kentucky got on the board in the bottom of the second inning, as Thomas smashed his fifth homer of the year over the left field fence with one out, his second consecutive game with a home run. They added in the third inning, as Shelby led off the inning with a hard-hit single up the middle. After a balk and a fly ball moved Shelby to third with two outs, Kuhn smashed a 2-0 offering up the middle to give UK a 2-0 lead.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the top of the eighth inning, as Joey Pankake was hit by the first pitch of the inning and Kyle Martin followed with a single up the middle. After a sacrifice bunt from Connor Bright, UK turned to Cody in relief. Cody got Grayson Greiner to loft a sacrifice fly to leftfield to score Pankake and cut into the lead.