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March 28, 2009

Box Score

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Lexington, Ky. – It was wild and crazy in the series opener at Cliff Hagan Stadium as South Carolina jumped out to a double-digit lead behind a season-high 25 hits and held off a late Kentucky rally to hold on for a 20-19 victory in game one of a doubleheader. The nightcap for the doubleheader is set for 5 p.m. The win bumps up Carolina’s record to 17-6 and 3-4 in the SEC while the loss drops Kentucky to 15-8 and 3-4 in league play.

South Carolina’s 25 hits ties for the fifth highest total in a game under head coach Ray Tanner and is the most since Carolina recorded 25 at Mississippi State on March 23, 2007. It was a career day for several Gamecock hitters with personal bests set. Jackie Bradley, Jr. Whit Merrifield and Justin Dalles all had four hits for career highs. Bradley, Jr. also tied his season-high with three RBI. Andrew Crisp also had four hits for a season-high and tallied two homers, the second multi-homer game of his career and the second by a Gamecock player this year. Seven of the nine Gamecock position starters had at least two hits. Bobby Haney tied a season-high with three with Parker Bangs and Scott Wingo also finishing with two apiece. Wingo and Bangs both drove in three runs.

The 18-hit total for Kentucky featured first baseman Gunner Glad, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with three homers, five runs scored and five RBI. Spencer Korus also was 2-for-3 with four RBI and Chris Bisson was 4-for-5 with four runs and four RBI to lead the Wildcats at the plate.

Starting pitcher Sam Dyson earned the win to improve to 4-1 for the season for Carolina. Dyson allowed eight runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts and four walks. Gamecock left-hander Alex Farotto picked up a save, his fifth of the season. He has factored in a win in all eight appearances this year for the Gamecocks as he also sports a 3-0 record. Farotto allowed two runs on two hits in 1.2 innings. He struck out one batter. Kentucky starter James Paxton took the loss and is also 4-1 on the year. He allowed nine runs on 10 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

South Carolina got out of the gates early against Paxton with three runs in the top of the first inning. Carolina knocked the Kentucky right-hander with five hits to take a 3-0 lead, the first time this season that Paxton had allowed a hit in the first inning of a game. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Whit Merrifield singled to open the game giving Carolina a pair of runners. After a one-out walk to DeAngelo Mack loaded the bases, Carolina scored its first two runs on a RBI base hit from Parker Bangs. With two outs and two runners still on base, the Gamecocks scored the third run on Justin Dalles’ RBI single.

The bats continued to work in the second inning as Carolina batted around and added six more runs to go ahead 9-0. Scott Wingo drew a leadoff walk, Bradley, Jr. poked a single to center and Merrifield bunted for a base hit that set the stage for Nick Ebert. On Paxton’s first pitch, Ebert launched a grand slam homer to right field for his ninth round tripper of the season. It marked the Gamecocks’ first grand slam of the season and the first since Justin Smoak on April 24, 2008 vs. Wofford. The Gamecocks were not done there though with the home runs in the inning as Andrew Crisp and Justin Dalles went back-to-back as Carolina built a nine-run cushion.

Kentucky answered in the bottom half of the second to score two runs as Chris Bisson hit a two-out single to score Braden Kapteyn and Gunner Glad. The Wildcats benefited from a two-out walk to Glad followed by a hit by pitch to Cory Farris as they loaded the bases for Bisson, who responded with the single to left field off of Dyson.

After a scoreless third inning, Carolina knocked around reliever Jonathan Huff with four runs in the fourth inning. Parker Bangs recorded a RBI double, Bobby Haney drove in a run and Scott Wingo completed the scoring with a two-run homer, his first home run of the season. Wingo blasted a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall. Kentucky responded in the bottom of the fifth with three runs against Dyson off the bat of Marcus Nidiffer, who knocked a three-run homer to right field.

The South Carolina offense continued its success in the sixth inning with five more runs. Crisp led off with a solo home run. Justin Dalles would follow with a double and after a single by Bobby Haney put runners on the corners with no outs, Dalles scored on a failed pickoff attempt at first base. Wingo would drive in Haney with a RBI single and Bradley, Jr. blasted a two-run homer as South Carolina went ahead 18-5.

Kentucky didn’t waver though and came through with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Gunner Glad tallied a solo homer and Spencer Korus added a two-out RBI base hit.

The seventh inning would see the game get interesting as two runs by South Carolina were followed up by a six-run bottom half for the Wildcats. Haney had a RBI single for Carolina and Bradley, Jr. drove in his third run of the game with a sacrifice fly. Kentucky, however, showed some life with two outs scoring six runs against Dyson and reliever Justin Hopper. With two outs and an 0-2 pitch, Big Blue started their threat with a hit by pitch to Chad Wright. Hopper then entered for Carolina and Glad welcomed him to the game with a two-run homer to right field. Cory Farris, Chris Bisson and Chris Wade all singled with Wade also driving in a run. Korus then launched a three-run homer to left field that brought Kentucky within seven runs.

Kentucky made it tight in the eighth inning with four more runs to stay creep three within the Gamecocks. The Wildcats were the beneficiary of three consecutive walks to load the bases. That set the table for Bisson, who doubled for his fourth hit of the game down the right field line to score a pair of runs. Wade followed with a RBI double as well to score Bisson and that brought Gamecock closer Alex Farotto into the game. Farotto would get the next two batters to keep Carolina ahead 20-17.

After a scoreless top of the ninth, Kentucky kept battling as Glad launched his third home run of the game to left field, a two-run shot with two outs that brought Kentucky within a run. With two outs and a 2-0 count, Cory Farris blooped a ball into center field that saw Gamecock shortstop Bobby Haney grab with a sliding catch over the shoulder and on the run for the third out of the inning and a Gamecock victory.