After Friday night's display of heavy artillery in their first win at South Carolina since the George W. Bush administration, the No. 6 Bat Cats split the remaining two games with the Gamecocks to take another critical SEC series.
Nick Mingione's team sits atop the SEC East by a game over Florida with a 31-14 overall record and are 14-7 in conference play, and share the overall lead in the SEC with Mississippi State and Auburn.
The Wildcats next take the field this coming Friday against the Georgia Bulldogs at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
South Carolina 5, Kentucky 1
The day after ending a nine-game losing streak at South Carolina via an offensive supernova, crack pitching from South Carolina silenced the Wildcats' potent lineup as the Gamecocks evened the series Saturday afternoon.
USC starter Adam Hill (3-3) tossed five one-hit, one-run innings. He struck out five and walked three Wildcats. His replacement, Josh Reagan, continued to stifle the Cats for the next 2.1 innings. Reagan only allowed one hit and no runs. Closer Tyler Johnson took the reigns for the rest of the contest and collected his seventh save of the year.
In contrast to the Gamecocks' efficient relay, Kentucky's pitching situation was chaotic. Starter Zach Logue (5-4) only lasted 2.2 innings in which he allowed four runs via six hits. Logue struck out one and walked two batters. Five relief pitchers steadied the ship for the Wildcats after Logue's exit.
However, Tyler Marshall's home run, his first of the campaign, in the fourth inning was not enough to even the four runs South Carolina scored in the bottom of the second and third innings.
Kentucky 9, South Carolina 4
Kentucky's Sunday salvation in South Carolina came in the forms of a dominating relief performance by Logan Salow (2-3) and the late game heroics of Riley Mahan.
Tied at four in the top of the eighth inning after giving up a three-run lead earlier in the game, Kentucky had only Mahan aboard with one out. Troy Squires was at the plate and whiffed, striking out.
However, Mahan broke down the base path and pulled off a gutsy steal at second base. Troy Marshall wasted no time driving Mahan home with a single. After Marcus Carson singled and Connor Heady walked, Tristan Pompey, ripped a hit to right field scoring them both, and putting Kentucky ahead 7-4.
Mahan added some insurance runs in the top of the next inning with a two-run jack over the fence in right, his eighth of the season, to increase the lead to 9-4. He finished 1-of-4 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBI.
Salow saved the Cats in the bottom of the fifth. Starter Justin Lewis, usually a steady hand, allowed a three-run rally by the hosts to tie the game. In 4.2 innings of work, Salow did not allow a run or a hit while conceding a walk. Even more impressive was the ten Carolina hitters he fanned on his way to a win.
Lewis lasted 4.1 innings, allowing four earned runs, giving up seven hits, and walking not a single Gamecock batsmen.
The Gamecocks struck first in the bottom of the second with a home run to go up 1-0.
The Wildcats answered in the top of the next inning when a Pompey RBI single and a two-run blast by Evan White puts them in front 3-1.
Troy Marshall singled to bring a run home in the top of the fourth inning.
Pompey finished 2-of-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Marshall went 3-of-5 with a pair of RBI and a run scored as well.