Gamecocks grab 8-3 win over Kentucky in series finale

GoGamecocks staff reportsMarch 23, 2014 

USC's Joey Pankake

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

— The top-ranked South Carolina baseball team managed to avoid an SEC series sweep at the hands of Kentucky.

Behind home runs from DC Arendas and Joey Pankake as well as six strong innings from freshman right-hander Wil Crowe, the Gamecocks defeated the Wildcats 8-3 Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

With the win, the Gamecocks, who snapped a seven-game losing streak to Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium dating back to the 2010 season, improved to 19-3 overall and 3-3 in the SEC, while the Wildcats dropped to 17-7 overall and 3-3 in the conference.

“It was a big game for us and a big win,” South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “It was important to try and get a game up here. We played well, played good defense, Wil got us off to a good start, and we got a couple big swings of the bat.”

Crowe (5-0) allowed three runs on just four hits and two walks in his six-inning stint against a powerful Kentucky lineup. Junior right-hander Joel Seddon retired all seven batters he faced, which included four strikeouts, to collect his seventh save of the season after the Wildcats cut the lead to 5-3 in the seventh inning.

Arendas hit his third home run of the season, a solo shot in the fifth inning off Kentucky starter Andrew Nelson (1-1) to give USC a 2-0 lead, and Pankake also hit his third home run of the season, a three-run shot to left-center in the ninth that put the game out of reach.

Pankake, who had two of USC’s six hits, upped his hitting streak to 10 games.

“I got that one pretty good,” Pankake said of the home run. “It felt really good, and it felt even better to get three more runs and give a little cushion going into the bottom of the ninth.”

Connor Bright, who’s hitting a team-leading .398, also had two hits, including a RBI single in the three-run sixth inning.

The victory allowed the Gamecocks to move into in a five-way tie for first place in the SEC East with Kentucky, No. 6 Vanderbilt (20-5, 3-3), No. 18 Tennessee (19-4, 3-3), and Florida (15-9, 3-3).

“We try to pride ourselves on winning on Sunday,” Holbrook said. “If we are going to have a great year, you have to win on Sunday. We'll take it, get on the bus, regroup and try to play a little bit better next week.”

South Carolina returns to Carolina Stadium for five home games this week. The Gamecocks will play College of Charleston (16-7) on Tuesday, Coastal Carolina (11-13) on Wednesday, and Tennessee in the weekend series.

Box score: USC-Kentucky, Game 1

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