After struggling to produce much of anything offensively in the past two games, the USC bats came alive today, and that, combined with quality pitching and solid defense, saved the Gamecocks from getting swept.
Carolina took an early lead, getting their first run of the day in the second inning. Connor Bright led off with a single, Taylor Widener walked, and Tanner English brought Bright home with an RBI sac fly.
DC Arendas went yard in the fifth to put USC up 2-0, but the Wildcats got on the board in the bottom of the inning, when Ka'ai Tom hit a two-out single, then crossed the plate courtesy of a Storm Wilson RBI double.
In the next inning, the Gamecocks added some insurance. Joey Pankake and Kyle Martin knocked back-to-back base hits, then Bright and Widener came through with one-out RBI singles. An error brought Bright home, and the Gamecocks took a 5-2 lead.
Kentucky answered again, making the score 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Micheal Thomas doubled, Matt Reida walked with two outs, and Marcus Carson came in as a pinch hitter and contributed an RBI single.
It looked like South Carolina might have to cling to that slim lead, but instead they broke things open in the top of the ninth. Arendas got plunked, Elliott Caldwell, pinch hitting, coaxed a two-out walk, and Pankake homered to clear the bases and put the Gamecocks on top 8-3.
USC starter Wil Crowe had another impressive performance, which included a no-hitter through the fourth inning. He worked six innings and allowed four hits, three runs, walked walked two batters, struck out two, and hit one. He earned the win and improves to 5-0 on the season. Cody Mincey relieved Crowe, and Joel Seddon pitched the final 2.2 flawless innings. He got the save, his seventh of the season.
Andrew Nelson, the Wildcats' starter, lasted 5.1 innings and gave up five hits, five runs, issued two walks, tallied five K's, and was charged with a balk. He took the loss and drops to 1-1.
Pankake and Bright each had two hits to lead the Gamecocks, while five different players notched a hit for UK. In addition to avoiding the sweep, the Gamecocks also avoided leaving many runners stranded, something that had plagued them for the first two games of this series.
South Carolina is now 19-3 (3-3 in the SEC) while Kentucky falls to 17-7 (3-3 in conference play). The Gamecocks will be back in action on Tuesday, when they host College of Charleston. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.