No. 3 South Carolina got off to another slow start on Friday night and lost to Kentucky 7-3 in the series opener.
The Wildcats took an early lead, going up 1-0 in the first on a wild pitch. They tacked on another run in the next inning, making it 2-0 when James McCoy hit an inside-the-park home run. The Gamecocks ended the shutout in the fourth, when Gavin Casas went yard to make the score 2-1.
UK doubled their run total in the fifth, taking a 4-1 lead thanks to a Hunter Gilliam homer. USC pulled within one in the top of the seventh, making it a 4-3 game. Will Tippett and Dylan Brewer both singled with one out, then Michael Braswell knocked a base hit too to bring Tippett in. Ethan Petry got hit by a pitch after that, and a fly out by Messina allowed Brewer to score. The final runs of the game came in the bottom of the inning, courtesy of a bases-loaded walk and a single by Ryan Waldschmidt.
Cocks starter Will Sanders worked five innings and allowed six hits and four runs. He also walked three batters, struck seven out, and took the loss, making him 4-3. Austin Williamson, Eli Jones, and Wesley Sweatt also pitched in this game. Wildcats starter Travis Smith went six innings and gave up four hits and one run. He also issued three walks, struck out five batters, and earned the win, making him 4-1. Reliever Mason Moore got the save, his fourth.
Casas and Braswell had two hits apiece to lead Carolina, while they along with Messina each tallied one RBI. Four different Kentucky players had two hits each, while Gilliam recorded three RBI.
The Gamecocks are now 35-9 overall and 14-7 in the SEC, while Kentucky is 31-13 on the season and 12-10 in conference play. They’ll meet again on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. in Lexington.