LEXINGTON, Ky. - With staff ace Jordan Montgomery pitching the worst outing of his career Friday, all eyes were on how No. 2 starter Jack Wynkoop would respond after getting battered by Ole Miss a week ago and knocked form the game in the third inning after allowing seven hits and four runs.
Wynkoop pitched a gem. Facing the nation's most-prolific offense, he allowed just two runs, one in the second and one in the third, and five hits in No. 1 South Carolina's 2-1 loss to Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
Kentucky's two runs came on a solo home run from catcher Micheal Thomas, who homered Friday night as well, and on an RBI single from Max Kuhn that scored JaVon Shelby. Shelby's run was a direct result of a Wynkoop balk, and after the game, Wynkoop was more focused on his mistakes than his success.
"I was efficient there toward the end but I missed some spots in the beginning," Wynkoop said. "I left a ball up (to Thomas) and balked a guy over, which cost us a couple of runs and proved to be the difference in the game.
"It's not something I'm happy with."
After the second run, Wynkoop responded by facing the minimum over the next three innings, seating nine straight before a leadoff single in the seventh that he followed by striking out the next three hitters.
"They were aggressive, a lot like Ole Miss was," Wynkoop said. "Keeping the ball out of the zon to some of their better hitters was important.
"It flt good to settle in, but it was still a tough loss. You definitely want to take one on the road, and that's kind of our mindset. We'll try to flush today and Friday."
Catcher Grayson Greiner said he was happy to see Wynkoop bounce back from his poor outing against Ole Miss.
"I was proud of the way Jack threw after kind of a rough outing last week," Greiner said. "He pitched much better, we played much better defense.
"I think he just got mad at himself. Last week he gave up some runs early and this week he gave up some runs early and I think he got a little pissed off and made some better pitches, hit the inside spot a little bit, grooved his changeup well and kept the guys off balance."
EARNING RESPECT: Kentucky has USC's respect, especially its offense. A week after being impressed with Ole Miss at the plat, the Wildacts' linup drew high praise from Greiner.
"We've played Ole Miss and Kentucky, which are two of the best hitting teams in my three years just one through nine in their approach," Greiner said. "They're good-hiting teams.
"(Kentucky) got the big hit when they needed it these first two days and we haven't gotten the big hit when we needed it."
DEAD MEAT: A day after going 0-for-5 in throwing out base runners, Grayson Greiner rebounded Saturday to go 1-for-2, making mincemeat of Matt Reida in the fifth.
"It was an off day yesterday," Greiner said. "I had a few high throws. Guys got some good jumps and I tried to rush my throws."
HOLBROOK ERUPTS: So what did the players think of seeing their head coach Chad Holbrook get ejected in the top of the fifth for the first time in his USC career?
"It kind of revitalized us," Greiner said. "We thought Tanner was definitely safe.
Coach Holbrook has our backs, we have his back. So the fact that the second he called him out he was already out in the umpire's face, that kind of fires us up in thn dugout. Obviously we'd have liked to have him in the dugout the whole game, but that fired us up a little bit. Unfortunately we didn't do enough to win the game."
Wynkoop felt the same.
"It definitely gave us more energy, more life," Wynkoop said. "I think people were definitely upset. It's what happens. It's baseball. Humans are calling the games, so anything can happen."
NO PANIC: Don't expect a veteran-led team to panic after two road losses. At least not as long as Greiner is around.
"We knew they were a good pitching team," Greiner said. "They have some guys that can throw and hit their spots. A.J. (Reed) is an All-American pitcher and hitter. He shut us down yesterday.
"I like the way we're swinging the bats, though. It's early in the season. We have a long SEC season ahead of us. We're not getting bent out of shape over two losses."
SILVER LININGS: A day after committing a season-high four errors, USC had none Saturday...Joey Pankake extended his hitting streak to nine games with his single in the third...Cody Mincey worked a scoreless eighth to give USC a chance to tie it in the ninth.
AROUND THE SEC:
Kentucky 2, South Carolina 1
Arkansas 2, Alabama 1
Auburn 4, Tennessee 2
Texas A&M 5, Florida 4
Ole Miss 7, Missouri 1
Georgia at LSU 7:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Miss. State [ESPNU] 8:30 p.m.