EIGHTH INNING — RH Braden Kapteyn came out of the UK bullpen to open the inning. He struck out Adrian Morales. Pinch-hitters Evan Marzilli and Brady Thomas lined to first and struck out, respectively. Marzilli stayed in the game in LF, Thomas at C. The Gamecocks also brought in their eighth pitcher of the game, RH Ethan Carter. Marcus Nidiffer coaxed a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Taylor Black. Keenan Wiley was hit by a pitch. Cory Farris lined an RBI-double to the right-field corner, Wiley going to third. That brought another Carolina pitching change, this time going to RH Patrick Sullivan. With the infield pulled in, Neiko Johnson walked on five pitches to load the bases. Chris Bisson lined a first-pitch, two-run single to right, Johnson holding up at second. The Wildcats then pulled off a double steal, a run scoring when Thomas’ throw to third got away for an error. Going to the ninth inning: Kentucky 9, South Carolina 3.
SEVENTH INNING — Kentucky RH Alex Meyer struck out the Nos. 2-3-4 batters in a perfect seventh inning. In the bottom of the inning, Cory Farris pinch-hit for DH Michael Williams. Farris fanned. Neiko Johnson was hit by a pitch, then stole second, a call disputed by Carolina Coach Ray Tanner. Chris Bisson walked on a full-count pitch. Chad Wright’s 4-6 fielder’s choice put runners on the corners with two outs. Gunner Glad hit a high chopper, which caught SS Bobby Haney tried to short-hop. He was unable to come up with the ball, though, for a run-scoring error. Wright stopped at second. LH Tyler Webb came in to pitch, getting Lance Ray on a fly to left. After seven innings: Kentucky 5, South Carolina 3.
SIXTH INNING — Carolina got a leadoff single from Adam Matthews and a two-out walk from Scott Wingo. Both were stranded when leadoff batter Whit Merrifield grounded into a force play, dropping him to 0-for-4 in the game and 1-for-13 in the series. Carolina went with another pitcher in the bottom of the inning, RH Matt Price. He set the Wildcats down in order. After six innings: Kentucky 4, South Carolina 3.
FIFTH INNING — Carolina’s Christian Walker laced a one-out single up the middle, ending Alex Meyer’s string of consecutive batters retired at eight. UK’s Keenan Wiley went to the warning track in straightaway center to flag down fly balls by Jackie Bradley Jr. for the first out and Nick Ebert for the second. Adrian Morales struck out to strand Walker. Neiko Johnson led off UK’s half of the inning with a single. Gamecocks Coach Ray Tanner again went to his bullpen, pulling RH Jose Mata in favor of LH Michael Roth. Chris Bisson tried to bunt Johnson ahead but got too much on the ball and Roth threw out Johnson at second. Bisson stole second, though, and scored on Chad Wright’s single up the middle. Tanner called to his bullpen for RH John Taylor. Gunner Glad fouled out and LH Steven Neff became the Gamecocks’ fourth pitcher of the inning. On Neff’s first pitch, Wright stole second, but was stranded when Lance Ray struck out. After five innings: Kentucky 4, South Carolina 3.
FOURTH INNING — The Gamecocks went down in order for the second inning in a row. UK got its third solo homer of the game, a one-out drive down the short (310-foot) right-field line by Taylor Black. His ninth dinger of the season tied the game at 3. Keenan Wiley followed with a single to right, knocking out Gamecocks RH Jay Brown. Coach Ray Tanner turned to RH submariner Jose Mata. Wiley was thrown out trying to steal and Michael Williams struck out. After four innings: Kentucky 3, South Carolina 3.
THIRD INNING — Carolina went down 1-2-3 on grounders to 2B Chris Bisson, the first of which was an outstanding play on a ball up the middle
and robbed Adrian Morales of a hit. UK’s Neiko Johnson drew a leadoff walk. One out later, he advanced to second on Chad Wright’s groundout. Then, as Gunner Glad drew a walk, Johnson stole third. However, Lance Ray lined out to second. After three innings: South Carolina 3, Kentucky 2.
FIRST INNING — Kentucky RH Alex Meyer, making his first appearance since April 11 due to mononucleosis, retired the first two batters he faced, then ran into a storm. Christian Walker reached on a fielding error by 2B Chris Bisson. Nick Ebert was hit by a pitch. Adrian Morales singled up the middle to drive in Walker and move Ebert to second. Adam Matthews singled to right, scoring Ebert and advancing Morales to third. Morales scored on a passed ball charged to Marcus Nidiffer, making it 3-0. Kyle Enders was hit by a pitch. Finally, Bobby Haney struck out. Gunner Glad put Kentucky on the board, driving a first-pitch offering far over the wall down the left-field line. His 11th homer of the season also pushed his hitting streak to 11 games and gave him 27 consecutive games reaching safely. After one inning: South Carolina 3, Kentucky 1.
Pre-game — South Carolina and Kentucky are about set to begin the deciding game in a three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Gamecocks won Friday’s opener 13-9. Kentucky bounced back Saturday with a 2-1 triumph.
Sunday’s starting lineups:
SOUTH CAROLINA (36-10 overall, 17-6 SEC) — Whit Merrifield RF; Jackie Bradley Jr. CF; Christian Walker 1B; Nick Ebert DH; Adrian Morales 3B; Adam Matthews LF; Kyle Enders C; Bobby Haney SS; Scott Wingo 2B. Pitching: RH Jay Brown (2-0, 4.72).
KENTUCKY (25-21, 8-15) — Chris Bisson 2B; Chad Wright LF; Gunner Glad 3B; Lance Ray 1B; Marcus Nidiffer C; Taylor Black SS; Keenan Wiley CF; Michael Williams DH; Neiko Johnson RF. Pitching: RH Alex Meyer (4-2, 7.30).
UMPIRES — Keith Sanders HP; Tony Maners 1B; Randy Watkins 3B.
Weather — 50 degrees, wind 4 mph from the north.