Kentucky's Clutch Hitting Ends South Carolina's SEC Tournament Stay
May 10, 2017
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Behind a pair of two-out rallies, No. 18/18 Kentucky (36-16) came out with a 7-3 win in Wednesday’s first-round game in the 2017 SEC Tournament over No. 24/23 South Carolina (32-23) at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Kentucky posted a three-run third, with all the offense coming with two outs. Bailey Vick laid down a bunt single to start the rally, and Brooklin Hinz followed with a double to right center that Vick motored home on. Abbey Cheek followed with a two-run homer that snuck over the left-field wall. Another Kentucky run came in with two down in the fourth when Erin Rethlake beat out the tapper in front of the plate, allowing pinch runner Kelsee Henson to score from third. She ran for Alex Martens after Martens doubled to start the frame.
The Wildcats tacked onto their lead in the fifth on Cheek’s second two-run homer. Later in the frame, Jenny Schaper drove in pinch runner Brynlee Bigelow with an RBI single. Kentucky proceeded to load the bases, but Gamecock reliever Jessica Elliott escaped the jam with a fly out.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the sixth on junior designated player Alyssa VanDerveer’s home run to center and junior pinch hitter Shannon Plese’s bases-loaded RBI single, but a double play ended that threat. Junior centerfielder Tiara Duffy led off the seventh with a home run. South Carolina’s next two batters reached on a four-pitch walk to senior first baseman Kaylea Snaer and an error on a fielder’s choice, but Kentucky’s Meagan Prince closed the door, getting two first-pitch outs before a liner that Erin Rethlake stretched to snag over her head at first.
Prince (19-7) got the win, allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks in seven innings. She struck out four. Gamecock senior Nickie Blue (10-10) took the loss, giving up four earned runs on six hits in four innings.
Kentucky went 7-for-13 with two outs and had five two-out RBI.
The Gamecocks, meanwhile, only had one base runner reach before two outs in any of the first five innings.
Both Gamecock home runs by the juniors Duffy and VanDerveer hit a nearly identical spot behind the center-field wall.
Cheek went 3-for-4 with the two two-run home runs.
Hinz went 2-for-3 with an RBI double, a walk and two runs, while Rethlake went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Freshman second baseman Mackenzie Boesel went 2-for-4, while Snaer walked twice.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Thank you @GamecockSoftbll for an exciting @SEC season-let’s get ready for the NCAA tourney. I’ll be front and center for the watch party!
– dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) May 10, 2017
South Carolina awaits Sunday night’s selection show, which starts at 10 p.m. on ESPN2, to see where it will go in postseason play.