UK falls to USC Upstate 8-6

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - USC Upstate rallied with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break open a tie game and lift the Spartans to an 8-6 win over Kentucky, on Monday afternoon at Harley Park.

Kentucky (2-2) took a 4-0 lead after two innings, before USC Upstate rallied with four in the third, one in the fifth and three in the sixth. UK mounted one-run rallies in the sixth and seventh innings.

UK’s offense collected 12 hits, three hit batters, four walks and six runs but couldn’t get the clutch hit, stranding 11 on base. UK was led by multiple-hit games from Kyle Barrett, Austin Cousino, Max Kuhn, Ka’ai Tom and Micheal Thomas. Cousino went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double, with Barrett going 2-for-4 with a steal. UK also got hits from A.J. Reed and Matt Reida, with Connor Heady scoring a run and Thomas Bernal getting hit by a pair of pitches.

A native of Murray, Ky., UK starter Dylan Dwyer worked over three innings in his first career start, allowing five hits and four runs, walking two and striking out a career-high six. Sophomore Sam Mahar took over in a two on, no-out jam in the fourth, getting three outs to escape unscathed. Mahar worked 1.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run, striking out one. Freshman Robert Zeigler (0-1) replaced Mahar in a two on, two-out jam in the fifth inning for his collegiate debut, getting out of the jam. Zeigler started the sixth but allowed three hits, two walks and three runs before Spencer Jack replaced him. Jack worked three strong innings, allowing three hits and striking out four.

USC Upstate (2-2) starter Eric Birklund worked three innings, allowing six hits and four runs, walking two and striking out two. Righty Tresco Shannon took over to start the fourth, working three innings, allowing four hits and one run, walking one and striking out one. Zach Mitchell (1-0) came on to toss two innings, allowing two hits and one run, walking one and striking out one. Second baseman/right-handed pitcher Erik Samples took over in the ninth, picking up the save while also going 3-for-5 with three RBI at the plate.

UK will return to action in Norfolk, Va., on Friday facing St. John’s at 11 a.m. ET on the campus on Old Dominion.

Kentucky got on the board in the top of the first inning, as Barrett singled to leftfield on the first pitch he saw. Cousino was then hit by a full-count pitch and Kuhn drew a full-count walk to load the bags. Reed then hung an opposite-field sacrifice fly, scoring Barrett from third base.

In the top of the second, UK got a leadoff single from Thomas, who took second after a sacrifice bunt from Heady. Barrett followed with a walk, with Cousino clearing Thomas and Barrett with an opposite-field double. Kuhn then scored Cousino with a single up the middle.

USC Upstate rallied in the bottom of the third inning. Justin Allen led off with a single up the middle and A.J. Mackey drew a walk. Daneil Fickas then singled down the third base line, with Kuhn’s throw getting by the first base bag for an error. Samples followed with an RBI single to leftfield and Tyler Lesch was hit by a two-strike pitch to load the bases. Luke Weber then singled up the middle to score one and Zach Krider replaced him at first base on a RBI fielder’s choice.

Upstate took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, chasing Mahar from the mound. A one-out double off the wall in leftfield from Weber and a RBI single from Daniel Seeba lifted USC Upstate to a 5-4 lead.

UK rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the sixth inning, as Heady drew a four-pitch walk and Barrett singled through the right side, with Heady motoring to third base. Cousino then forced in Heady with a hard-hit 4-6-3 double play.

Upstate took a lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Zeigler walked Mackey and Fickas to lead off the inning and Samples smashed a double off the wall in left-centerfield, scoring the duo, with the throw from Reida sailing wide for an error allowing Samples to take third. Tyler Lesch then scored Samples with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

UK cut into the lead in the top of the seventh, as Bernal was hit by a pitch to leadoff, with Tom replacing him at first on a fielder’s choice. Thomas then drew a big walk and Reida singled through the right side to score Tom and cut the lead to 8-6.

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