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Kentucky Baseball drops crucial series to South Carolina

The Bat Cats’ SEC Tournament hopes took a big hit this weekend.

UK Athletics

With a chance to close in on securing a spot in the 2019 SEC tournament, the Kentucky Wildcats traveled to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks for a crucial three-game series this weekend.

Unfortunately for the Cats, rather than help their SEC tournament chances, they instead hurt them as they dropped two out of three games to the Gamecocks.

With the series loss, Kentucky now sits tied for last in the SEC standings with the Gamecocks as if the season ended today both teams would miss out on the conference tournament.

Despite the series loss, there was no shortage of action this weekend. Here’s a recap of all three games in Columbia.

Game 1: SC 5, UK 4

Game one of the three-game set saw the Wildcats get off to a quick start as Elliot Curtis hit a sacrifice fly to score Ryan Johnson putting Kentucky on-top 1-0.

It did not take long for South Carolina to strike back however as in the bottom half of the third Noah Campbell hit a solo home run to tie the game.

In the following inning, the Gamecocks would take the lead as Brady Allen hit a run-scoring triple and then later came around to score on a wild pitch as South Carolina took a 3-1 lead.

The Cats would respond quickly however as Ryan Shinn delivered a two-run single to tie the game in the top of the fifth and later that inning T.J. Collett drove him in with a run-scoring single of his own as Kentucky retook the lead at 4-3.

In the bottom of the sixth, the back and forth affair continued as Jonah Beamon knocked in a run on a bunt single to tie the game.

The dagger would come in the bottom of the seventh. With the game tied Gamecocks left fielder, Andrew Eystyer hit a go-ahead solo home run giving South Carolina 5-4 lead they would not relinquish as they took the opener of the three-game series.

Game 2: SC 11, UK 3

Looking to even up the series the Cats sent Dillon Marsh to the mound in game two. Marsh would have run support before taking the mound as in the top of the first Coltyn Kessler slugged a solo home run to give Kentucky an early lead.

Marsh would hold onto the lead until the bottom of the third when TJ Hopkins hit a two-run home run to give South Carolina their first lead of the game at 2-1.

Kentucky would keep Marsh from taking a loss however as Elliot Curtis delivered a two-run single in the top of the fifth to put Kentucky on top 3-2.

With Marsh out of the game, it was up to Kentucky’s bullpen to get the final 18 outs. Things would not go as planned however as South Carolina struck for three runs off of Jimmy Ramsey in the top of the sixth as Brady Allen hit a solo home run and Jacob Olson hit a two-run shot to put the Gamecocks up 5-3.

The game would spiral out of control in the bottom of the seventh as the Gamecocks put up a five-spot off of Braxton Cottongame and Cole Ayers in the seventh and then tacked one more in the eighth off of Alex Degan as the Gamecocks clinched a series victory with an 11-3 game two win.

Game 3: UK 6, SC 2

Needing to avoid a sweep Kentucky sent one of the nations best in Zack Thompson to the mound.

As per usual Thompson was on his A game. The Wildcat ace tossed six innings allowing just two runs while striking out eight Gamecocks.

Offensively the Cats were able to provide Thompson with run support. In the top of the first Coltyn Kessler ripped an RBI double to put the Cats up 1-0 early.

With the game tied at one in the top of the fourth, the Cats played small ball to retake the lead. Marshall Gei drove in Austin Schultz on a ground ball to first base, and later that inning Cam Hill laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Dalton Reed as Kentucky took a 3-1 lead.

Kentucky would add onto their lead in both the fifth and sixth innings as in the fifth Ryan Shinn hit an RBI double and in the sixth Kessler drove in a run on a ground ball, and T.J. Collett hit an RBI single to put the Cats up 6-1.

With a 6-2 lead, Nick Mingone called on the bullpen to get the games final nine outs. This time the bullpen would come through as Daniel Harper and Carson Coleman locked down the Kentucky victory as the Cats avoided the sweep,

With their final road series in the books, Kentucky (25-26) will return home to play the seasons final four games.

Tuesday they will play host to the Michigan Wolverines for the final non-conference battle of 2019 and then next weekend the No. 3 Vanderbilt Commodores will come to town in what will be the Wildcats last chance to pile up wins in their quest to make it to the SEC tournament.