Kentucky Rolls to Win in SEC Tournament Opener
Third-seeded Wildcats get six scoreless innings from bullpen
HOOVER, Ala. – Kole Cottam’s fourth inning home run over the 405-foot mark in centerfield gave No. 8 Kentucky the lead for good and the bullpen worked six scoreless innings as the Wildcats opened the SEC Tournament with a 7-2 win over South Carolina at the Hoover Met.
The win is UK’s first in the SEC Tournament since 2014 and gives the Cats 39 victories this season, the most since the 2012 team won a school-record 45. UK will face the winner of the Missouri-LSU game in the second game of Thursday’s evening session, approximately 9 p.m. ET.
The Cats (39-18) spotted South Carolina a two-run lead in the top of the third, as the Gamecocks took advantage of a pair of walks – one intentional – the grab an early lead. But UK answered right back in its half of the inning, tying the game on Evan White’s RBI groundout and Luke Becker’s ground ball that sneaked under the glove of the second baseman.
Cottam, who now has nine hits in his past four games, hammered his sixth home run of the year in the fourth and White added a three-run opposite-field double in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
On the mound, junior lefty Brad Schaenzer drew the start and lasted three innings before lefty Zach Logue relieved him in the fourth and threw three terrific innings to earn the win. Freshman righty Chris Machamer earned his first career save by working the final three innings.
Top 3rd – TJ Hopkins walked with one out. Carlos Cortes was intentionally walked. Riley Hogan blooped a single to CF to load the bases. Alex Destino hit a SAC fly to score Hopkins. Jonah Bride doubled to LF to score Cortes. USC 2, UK 0.
Bottom 3rd – Connor Heady singled up the middle. Tristan Pompey singled to LF, moving Heady to third. Evan White hit an RBI groundout, scoring Heady. Luke Becker pulled a grounder under the second baseman’s glove that was ruled an error, scoring Pompey from second. UK 2, USC 2.
Bottom 4th – Kole Cottam homered to CF. UK 3, USC 2.
Bottom 6th – Cottam singled through the left side. Zeke Lewis pinch ran for Cottam. Marcus Carson was hit by a pitch. Heady singled to LF to load the bases. White doubled into RCF, scoring all three runners. UK 6, USC 2.
Bottom 8th – Carson reached on an error. Heady laid down a SAC bunt and a throwing error on the play allows Carson to score from first. UK 7, USC 2.