May 7, 2010
Lexington, Ky. – Christian Walker tied a school record for doubles in a game with three, tied his career-high with four hits and also drove in four runs and senior right-hander Blake Cooper improved to 9-0 on the year in 5.2 innings of work as South Carolina held on for a 13-9 victory over Kentucky in game one of a three-game SEC baseball series on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Carolina is now 36-9 and 17-5 in the SEC while the loss drops Kentucky to 24-21 and 7-15 in league play. Game two of the series is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday night and will be televised on FS South by the Big Blue Network. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at GamecocksOnline.com.
Trailing 7-4, the Gamecocks scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 9-7 lead. Things got started for Carolina on a one-out base hit by Bobby Haney. Carolina then caught a break as a sacrifice bunt by Scott Wingo was misplayed by third baseman Andy Burns to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners. Whit Merrifield reached base then on an infield single to load the bases. On a 0-1 pitch, Jackie Bradley Jr. drilled a double to right field scoring both Haney and Wingo and cutting the Kentucky lead to one run. The Wildcats went to the pen for reliever Nick Kennedy. Christian Walker welcomed him to the game drilling a double to the warning track in right field scoring Merrifield and tying the game at 7-7. Pinch hitter Jeffery Jones would put the Gamecocks ahead on a RBI ground out to score Bradley and Adrian Morales had a two-out RBI base hit to left field scoring Walker as the Gamecocks went ahead by two runs. That lead was extended to 11-7 in the eighth inning as Walker doubled home Bradley and Evan Marzilli knocked in Walker with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Kentucky scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to cut Carolina’s lead to 11-9. Taylor Black led off with a solo home run to left field, his eighth homer of the year. With two outs and Bisson on third base, Lance Ray knocked a RBI base hit to left field. South Carolina brought the lead back to four runs in the top of the ninth as Walker delivered again with this third double of the game, down the left field line, scoring Haney and Wingo to give Carolina the 13-9 lead.
Both teams finished with 14 hits in the game with Walker’s 4-for-6 day at the plate leading the way for Carolina. Jackie Bradley Jr. was 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored and Adam Matthews and Bobby Haney had two hits apiece as well. Bradley had two doubles as well. Seven of the Gamecocks’ 14 hits were doubles on the evening. Lance Ray was 3-for-4 to lead Kentucky with Chris Bisson, Gunner Glad, Kennan Wiley, Marcus Nidiffer and Taylor Black also tallying two hits apiece.
Blake Cooper earned the win after 5.2 innings allowing seven runs, three earned, on nine hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Freshman right-hander Matt Price picked up his fifth save of the year with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts. Kentucky starter Taylor Rogers suffered the loss and is now 4-7 for the season. He allowed eight runs, three earned, on eight hits in 5.1 innings.
“We tried to play all our frames and that (sixth inning) was a big inning for us,” said head coach Ray Tanner. “Cooper pitched pretty good. We had a couple of errors that hurt him a little bit. It was a windy day, sort of a hard field to play defense one, but it’s the same for both teams. (Taylor Rogers) pitched well for (Kentucky). It was one of those games that you have to just play until the end.”
Kentucky struck first with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning. Chad Wright reached base with one out on a throwing error by Gamecock shortstop Bobby Haney. After a single by Gunner Glad, the Wildcats would score their first run on Lance Ray’s RBI base hit up the middle. Glad would also eventually score on a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Braden Kapteyn as the Wildcats broke ahead 2-0 on the Gamecocks.
Carolina came right back in the top of the second inning with two runs to tie the game up. Adam Matthews opened the frame with a bunt base hit and Kyle Enders laced a single up the middle off the glove of Rogers on the mound to give Carolina a pair of runners. Wingo would drive in Matthews on a RBI ground out and Enders would score on a fielding error by Kentucky second baseman Chris Bisson.
Kentucky regained the lead in the bottom of the second inning as Marcus Nidiffer connected with a one-out solo home run to left center, his seventh of the season. Nidiffer knocked the first pitch from Cooper to put Kentucky on top 3-2.
South Carolina again answered, this time with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the third inning to go ahead 4-3 on the Wildcats. Christian Walker reached base to open the inning on the second fielding error of the game by Bisson at second base. Carolina then caught the second break in the inning as Parker Bangs reached base on a fielder’s choice and Walker advanced to third as shortstop Taylor Black threw low to second trying to nab Walker on the force out to give Carolina runners on the corners with no outs.
Kentucky tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the third inning taking advantage of a pair walks to Gunner Glad and Lance Ray that opened the inning. Glad would score on a RBI sacrifice fly to deep center field off the bat of Andy Burns. The Wildcats went ahead 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth as Taylor Black singled with one out, stole second base and scored on Bisson’s RBI base hit to right center.
Kentucky extended the advantage to 7-4 in the bottom of the fifth. Lance Ray opened the inning with a single to left field and advanced on Adam Matthews’ fielding error. With two outs and Ray still on second base, Kennan Wiley hit a high chopper that got past Wingo for a base hit and allowed Ray to score. After Wiley stole second and advanced to third on Enders’ throwing error, he would score as Nidiffer knocked a hard hit ball down the third base line that Morales could not corral at third base.