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Bat Cats beat up on South Carolina in SEC Tournament opener


Last weekend's series at Florida was a cruel blow for a Kentucky baseball team that so far has defied all pre-season expectations. While Nick Mingione's team did not capture the programs' second regular season SEC Championship, the Bat Cats (39-18) proved that they are not ready for their season to end without a trophy as they stayed alive in the SEC Tournament with a 7-2 win over South Carolina.

The Gamecocks (33-24) drew first blood in the top of the third inning by loading the bases against UK's Brad Schaenzer, courtesy of two walks and a blooper to centerfield. A SAC fly and an RBI single respectively ignited the brief South Carolina rally before Schaenzer worked his way out of the jam. He lasted three innings and gave up five hits while walking three batters and striking out another.

Kentucky struck back during their turn at bat in the third. Connor Heady singled and moved all the way to third base after Tristan Pompey smashed the ball into the left side of the field. Then Heady scored thanks to a well-positioned groundout from Evan White. Pompey scored from second on a Gamecock throwing error.

Zach Logue (7-5) came in the game during the fourth inning and proceeded to give Kentucky three beautiful innings. Logue gave up two hits but did not allow a run or a walk. He also mowed down four South Carolina hitters.

As Logue stifled the Gamecock's offense, Kentucky's powerful lineup started pounding the flap off the ball. Kole Cottam launched his sixth home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth to give Kentucky a 3-2 lead. Evan White collected another three RBI in the bottom of the sixth with a bases-clearing double. A heads up bunt by Heady in the eighth brought Marcus Carson home for the Wildcats’ seventh and final run of the game.

Cottam finished 2-for-3 with a single in addition to his homer. White's only hit of the game in five tries was his double. He also finished with four RBI. Marcus Carson was the only other Wildcat to get more than one hit; he finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Chris Machamer tossed three scoreless innings over the final third of the contest to earn his first save of the season.

Kentucky will face LSU later Thursday with a trip to the tournament semis on the line.