Gamecocks win series opener versus Kentucky
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS BASEBALL
Friday’s Southeastern Conference baseball game between South Carolina and Kentucky began in an ominous way for the Gamecocks.
But, in a battle of teams desperately attempting to qualify for the SEC Tournament, it was Carolina finding a way to pull out the win with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory.
Andrew Eyster launched a solo homer over the leftfield wall to give USC what turned into the winning run.
The Gamecocks managed to hold that advantage to improve to 25-24 overall and 6-19 in league action. Kentucky fell to 24-25 and 6-19 respectively.
The win marked the first time USC has won a SEC series opening game this season.
“I saw he didn’t really have an overpowering fastball,” said Eyster of his game-winning hit. “He kind of had a vertical slider. He hung it a couple times so I was looking for that. He threw the first one in the dirt. I kind of figured I was getting another one and I hit it hard.”
The Gamecocks entered the contest one game behind Kentucky and Alabama for the 12th place in SEC standings. As USC loses the tiebreaker to the Crimson Tide, a series win against the Wildcats is virtually a must.
The game was back and forth throughout with the lead changing hands four times.
After falling behind by a run in the first, the Gamecocks tied things in the third on a Noah Campbell solo home run over the left field fence. They added two runs in the fourth, claiming a 3-1 advantage. That didn’t last, as Kentucky pushed three across in the fifth on two hits, two USC errors and two walks by pitcher Cam Tringali.
The Gamecocks starter managed to keep his squad in contention during his outing, something that has not always been easy for USC.
“I just wanted to go out and do what I do,” said Tringali who pitched five and two/third innings. “In that first inning I threw a few too many pitches. My command wasn’t where I needed it to be. But, with the state of our staff, you’ve got to fill it up a little more.”
Reliever Dylan Harley kept the Wildcats at bay, allowing no hits and one walk, while striking out three in a two and one/third inning appearance. That allowed USC time to regain the lead.
“I was getting my slider in in any count,” said Harvey. “I knew to jam them a little bit to get outs.”
Brett Kerry took the mound in the ninth, sitting Kentucky down in order to preserve the win.
“That’s how you write it up,” said USC coach Mark Kingston said of his pitchers. “You get five plus innings out of your starter, the middle guy comes in and gives you two plus and your closer comes in and gets three quality outs. That’s how you draw it up. It hasn’t gone that way for us often this year but, tonight it did.”
The win marked the beginning the Gamecocks need. With one more victory against Kentucky it would hold the tiebreaker again the Wildcats if teams end deadlocked at the end of the regular season. USC also has to finish a game ahead of Alabama which is hosting Texas A&M this weekend.
The team’s return to action Saturday at 11 a.m. in Founders Park in a game that was moved up an hour from its original start due to anticipated inclement weather.