LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The University of Kentucky baseball team dropped both games of a Southeastern Conference doubleheader to No. 5 South Carolina Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The double-dip was scheduled after
Saturday's cancellation due to inclement weather in the Bluegrass.
In the first game, UK (14-27, 3-16 SEC) fell to South Carolina, 6-4. The win clinched the series for the Gamecocks (33-10, 13-6), and solidified them as the first place team in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference.
Junior Drew Meyer set the tone for the game with the first pitch, taking UK ace Joseph Blanton's fastball over center field wall for his fifth home run of the year. Junior Brian Buscher followed two batters later with his fourth triple of the season, bringing in senior Steve Thomas. Buscher would score the third and final run of the inning, giving South Carolina the early 3-0 edge.
The Cats countered in the bottom half of the first. After Spencer Graeter doubled, Junior Gordon Tyler got his 19th RBI of the year on a single to right field. Sophomore Caleb Stewart and junior Seth Morris tied the game through four innings, adding home runs in the third and fourth. Graeter's second run of the game in the fifth provided Kentucky's final run of the game.
Thomas answered the two Cat homers with a shot of his own in the fifth to give the Gamecocks a lead they would not relinquish. South Carolina scored again in the sixth and seventh innings to ensure the 6-4 victory.
Joseph Blanton (3-6) struck out two batters and gave up seven hits in 5.2 innings for the Cats. In his second outing of the weekend, senior Bryan Felkel finished the game on the mound for Kentucky, facing five batters and striking out one.
Due to rain on Saturday and SEC time restraints for teams on traveling days, both games were shortened to only seven innings of play.
South Carolina 300 011 1 - 6 8 0
Kentucky 101 110 0 - 4 7 1
Win- Spigner, C. (5-0)
Loss- Blanton, J. (3-6)
Save- Taylor, B. (12)
The second game between the teams showcased why the Gamecocks are the second-leading home run hitting team in the conference, as Trey Dyson, Drew Meyer, and Brian Buscher knocked runs out of the park in the first
three innings to give USC a 7-0 advantage.
UK junior Scott Wade (3-7) gave up eight hits to the Gamecocks before being pulled after 2 2/3 innings. He was replaced by junior Rob Corrado, who allowed one run on five hits in 2.1 innings of work.
The Cats put six runs across the plate with Spencer Graeter
providing the first of the game. After walking to reach base, a hit from sophomore Caleb Stewart advanced him to third, before Gordon Tyler's sac fly brought in the sophomore.
Kentucky capitalized again in the bottom of the fourth. Gamecock pitcher Steven Bondurant (6-0) allowed back-to-back singles to Robert Newton and Spencer Preston and issued a walk to Mike Ferris, loading the bases for Russ Rutherford. The junior hit the top of left field wall, bouncing over for a grand slam. It was Rutherford's first career slam and the first for Kentucky since Seth Morris cleared the bases at Tennessee on April 7.
South Carolina extended their 9-5 lead, adding another solo slam from Kevin Melillo in the fifth and two more runs in the sixth frame. The Gamecocks, who came into the weekend the top fielding team in the country, committed two errors in the win.
The Cats used four pitchers from the bullpen to finish the
series. UK head coach Keith Madison called upon the services of Corrado, Mark Galvin, Craig Snipp and Jeff Archer. Snipp faced only one batter before injuring his arm and giving way to Archer to close the contest.
For the Gamecocks, Trey Dyson went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
The victory gave South Carolina their 34th victory of the season and 14th in SEC play. With the loss, UK dropped to 14-28 on the year and 3-18 in the conference.
The Cats take a break from conference action on Wednesday, May 1 at Cliff Hagan Stadium, facing the Cincinnati Bearcats at 6 p.m. ET.
USC 306 012 0 - 12 15 2
UK 001 410 0 - 6 7 2
Win: Evans (1-1)
Loss: Wade (3-8)