LEXINGTON, Ky (3/24/14) — Wil Crowe turned in a strong start on the mound to lead top-ranked South Carolina to a series-salvaging 8-3 win over No. 27 Kentucky, Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
After Kentucky won the series with a 13-5 win in the opener Friday and a 2-1 clincher Saturday, the Gamecocks jumped out to a lead with single runs in the second and fifth innings, getting three-run frames in the sixth and ninth. USC, the NCAA’s leader in ERA, rode the strong pitching effort from Crowe and a 2.1 inning save from Joel Seddon to post the win and salvage the series, keeping UK from just its second series sweep over a No. 1 ranked team in program history and its first since 1991.
Kentucky (17-7, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) was handcuffed by Crowe, who worked through six innings in his sixth career start. Crowe improved to 5-0 with the win, lowering his ERA in his collegiate debut to 1.63.
UK starter Andrew Nelson (1-1) suffered his first career loss, working 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and five runs, four earned, walking two and striking out five. He was relieved with one out in the top of the sixth inning by sophomore southpaw Ryne Combs, who worked three shutout innings, allowing one run, walking one and striking out one. Sophomore Zach Strecker and sophomore southpaw Sam Mahar combined to get the final two outs, with Mahar allowing a three-run homer.
UK collected five hits in the game, getting a double from Micheal Thomas, who had homered in both games to open the series. UK also got singles from Kyle Barrett, Ka’ai Tom, Storm Wilson and Marcus Carson, with JaVon Shelby scoring a run.
Crowe (5-0) worked over six innings, allowing four hits, three runs and two walks, striking out two. He was relieved in the seventh inning with one runner on base by Cody Mincey, who got two outs in the seventh. Seddon then took over with two down in the seventh, working the final 2.1 innings for his seventh save of the year.
The Gamecocks (19-3, 3-3 SEC) got on the board first in the top of the second, as Connor Bright led off with a single into the left-centerfield gap, taking second on a walk issued to Taylor Widener. After a sacrifice bunt from DC Arendas, Tanner English lofted a sacrifice fly into left-centerfield to score Bright.
In the top of the fifth inning, South Carolina got a lead off solo homer from Arendas, his third homer of the year.
The Wildcats got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Tom singled with two outs, scoring on Wilson’s RBI double into the left-centerfield gap.
South Carolina answered in the top of the sixth inning, as Joey Pankake singled to right-center to lead off the inning and Kyle Martin followed with a single through the right side. After Nelson got Grayson Greiner to strike out, Bright singled to right-centerfield, scoring Pankake, with UK rightfielder Kyle Barrett throwing to third with one out, allowing Bright to take second base. Taylor Widener then chopped a ball that went as an error, allowing Bright and Martin to score.
UK got a run back in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Shelby was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. After a passed ball pushed Shelby to second base, Barrett singled to the left-centerfield gap, scoring Shelby to make it 5-2.
The Wildcats got a leadoff double from Thomas in the bottom of the seventh, with Thomas scoring on a two-out, pinch-hit single from Carson, making it a 5-3 game.
Pankake gave South Carolina an 8-3 lead with a two-out, three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, scoring Elliott Caldwell and Arendas.UK will return to action Tuesday, hosting Xavier at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Information provided by UK Athletics
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