NINTH INNING — Bobby Haney led off for Carolina with a single to left. Scott Wingo’s hard-and-straight bunt caught pitcher Mike Kaczmarek off guard and he booted the ball for UK’s fifth error of the game. After Whit Merrifield bunted the runners to second and third, Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, loading the bases. Christian Walker lined a two-run double down the left-field line. UK made a pitching change, going to RH Joe Devine, and pulled the infield in. 2B Chris Bisson made a leaping stab of Nick Ebert’s would-be two-run hit for out No. 2. Adrian Morales lined out to center. In the bottom of the ninth, RH Matt Price struck out Andy Burns and Keenan Wiley before walking pinch-hitter Cory Farris. Farris stole second and Taylor Black walked. But Chris Bisson lined out to center. FINAL SCORE: SOUTH CAROLINA 13, KENTUCKY 9.
EIGHTH INNING — Carolina’s Jackie Bradley Jr. crushed a two-out double to right, off the of right-field “green monster” once occupied by a scoreboard. He scored on Christian Walker’s bloop double to right. That finished Wildcats RH Nick Kennedy, replaced by LH Mike Kaczmarek. Carolina countered with a pinch-hitter, Nick Ebert, in place of Jeffery Jones. Kaczmarek plunked Ebert in the foot, then beaned Adrian Morales in the back to load the bases. Walker scored on Evan Marzilli’s sacrifice fly to center. Taylor Black led off UK’s half of the inning with his eight homer of the season, a line shot well beyond the left-field wall. Chris Bisson and Chad Wright followed with consecutive singles. Gunner Glad, the potential tying run, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. South Carolina made another pitching change, turning to RH Matt Price. Lance Ray singled over short, driving Bisson in from third to make it an 11-9 game. Braden Kapteyn, the potential tying run, struck out. After eight innings: South Carolina 11, Kentucky 9.
SEVENTH INNING – Kentucky RH Nick Kennedy retired the Gamecocks in order. South Carolina LH Michael Roth retired the first two Wildcats before Keenan Wiley singled up the box. Carolina Coach Ray Tanner again went to the bullpen, this time for RH Ethan Carter, who promptly fanned Marcus Nidiffer. After seven innings: South Carolina 9, Kentucky 7.
SIXTH INNING — Carolina battled back with a one-out rally. Bobby Haney singled to left. Scott Wingo put down a bunt to advance Haney, and Wingo was safe when 3B Andy Burns muffed the pickup for an error. Whit Merrifield loaded the bases with an infield single that caromed off of Burns and into foul territory. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a two-run double to right. That finished UK starter Taylor Rogers as Coach Gary Henderson summoned RH Nick Kennedy from the bullpen. Merrifield scored on Christian Walker’s fly-ball double to right, scored a double when either the wind or lights seemed to give RF Lance Ray problems. Bradley advanced to third, then scored on pinch-hitter Jeffery Jones’ groundout. Adam Morales doubled in Walker with the fifth run of the inning. Pinch-hitter Evan Marzilli, who would stay in the game in LF, grounded out to end the inning. Kentucky got a two-out single from Gunner Glad to knock out Gamecocks starter Blake Cooper. Coach Ray Tanner called on LH Michael Roth to get Ray on an infield fly. After six innings: South Carolina 9, Kentucky 7.
FIFTH INNING — Kentucky LH Taylor Rogers set Carolina down in order, the first time all night for either team. He was helped out when RF Lance Ray sprinted to short right-center and made a diving catch of a fly off the bat of leadoff batter Parker Bangs. Ray led off the bottom of the inning with a single. The ball skipped past LF Adam Matthews for an error, allowing Ray to take second. Two outs later, Ray scored on Keenan Wiley’s chopper up the middle. SS Bobby Haney, trying to make the pickup, couldn’t and instead shielded 2B Scott Wingo asthe ball skipped through to center field. Wiley stole second, adding a base when the wide throw by C Kyle Enders bounced into center. Wiley scored on Marcus Nidiffer’s line single off the glove of 3B Adrian Morales. After five innings: Kentucky 7, Carolina 4.
FOURTH INNING — With two outs, Carolina’s Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a Taylor Rogers wild pitch. That’s as far as Bradley got, though. In the bottom of the inning, Taylor Black blooped a one-out single to right, then stole second base. He scored on Chris Bisson’s sharp single to center, giving UK a 5-4 lead. After four innings: Kentuckcy 5, South Carolina 4.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
THIRD INNING — The first two Gamecocks reached by virtue of errors. 2B Chris Bisson’s second fielding error in as many innings put Christian Walker on base. SS Taylor Black made a nice stop on Parker Bangs’ grounder to the hole, but his throw to Bisson at second was errant and Walker advanced to third. Walker scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Adrian Morales. Adam Matthews stretched a hit to right-center into a double, advancing Bangs to third. Kyle Enders’ grounder to short scored Bangs with the go-ahead run and put Matthews on third. Bobby Haney grounded out to Black. Gamecocks RH Blake Cooper issued back-to-back walks to Gunner Glad and Lance Ray to open the bottom half of the inning. Braden Kapteyn bunted the runners up a base. Glad scored on Andy Burns’ sacrifice fly, with CF Jackie Bradley Jr. saving a second run by making an over-the-shoulder catch going towards the wall. After three innings: Kentucky 4, South Carolina 4.
SECOND INNING — Carolina opened with back-to-back infield singles — Adam Matthews reaching on a bunt down the first-base line, Kyle Enders on a shot that caromed off the glove of LHP Taylor Rogers. Both runners advanced on Bobby Haney’s slow roller to short. Matthews scored and Enders took third on Scott Wingo’s grounder to 1B Gunner Glad. Whit Merrifield’s grounder to second turned into a run-scoring, tough-hop error against Chris Bisson. Further damage was averted when SS Taylor Black went deep into the hole to snare Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s grounder, pivot and fire to Bisson to force Merrifield. UK reclaimed the lead on Marcus Nidiffer’s seventh homer of the season, a first-pitch offering that he drove over the wall in left. After two innings: Kentucky 3, South Carolina 2.
FIRST INNING — South Carolina got back-to-back one-out singles by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Walker. Bradley took third on Parker Bangs’ fly to center. UK lefty Taylor Rogers worked out of the jam by getting Adrian Morales to ground into a fielder’s choice. In the bottom of the inning, UK’s Chad Wright reached on a one-out throwing error by Gamecocks SS Bobby Haney. Wright took second when Gunner Glad lined a single in front of LF Adam Matthews. That extended Glad’s hitting streak to nine games and increased his streak of reaching base safely to 25 games. Lance Ray lined a single up the middle to drive in Wright and advance Glad to third. Glad scored and Ray was forced at second when Braden Kapteyn grounded into a fielder’s choice. Andy Burns flied out to end the inning. After one inning: Kentucky 2, South Carolina 0.
Pre-game — Kentucky is about to take on South Carolina, ranked No. 6 by Baseball America, in the opener of a three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Wildcats basketball coach John Calipari is on hand to toss a ceremonial first pitch.
UK (24-20 overall, 7-14 SEC) has its back to the wall, standing fifth in the Eastern Division of the SEC and 10th overall. Only the top eight teams will qualify for the SEC tournament. Alabama has the eighth spot for now with a 9-12 conference record.
South Carolina (35-9, 16-5) leads the Eastern Division and is a shoo-in for the post-season.
South Carolina — Whit Merrifield RF; Jackie Bradley Jr. CF; Christian Walker 1B; Parker Bangs DH; Adrian Morales 3B; Adam Matthews LF; Kyle Enders C; Bobby Haney SS; Scott Wingo 2B. Pitching: RH Blake Cooper (8-0, 2.92).
Kentucky — Chris Bisson 2B; Chad Wright LF; Gunner Glad 1B; Lance Ray RF; Braden Kapteyn DH; Andy Burns 3B; Keenan Wiley CF; Marcus Nidiffer C; Taylor Black SS. Pitching: LH Taylor Rogers (4-6, 5.63).
Umpires — Tony Maners HP; Randy Watkins 1B; Keith Sanders 3B.
Weather — 85 degrees, wind 23-33 mph right field-to-left.