Brady Thomas has a knack for late-inning heroics.
After letting an opportunity slip to give South Carolina the lead in the eighth inning, the sixth-year senior’s grounder to second handcuffed Kentucky second baseman J.T. Riddle and allowed Adrian Morales to score from third to give the No. 3 Gamecocks a 4-3 victory in 10 innings at Carolina Stadium.
USC (21-5, 6-2 SEC) goes for the sweep today at 1:30 with Forrest Koumas on the mound.
Thomas played hero more than once last season. While South Carolina marched to the national championship, Thomas delivered a game-winning RBI in the 12th inning to eliminate Oklahoma at the College World Series. He also had a walk-off home run in the 11th inning to defeat Alabama last season.
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“I love being in that kind of situation,” Thomas said. “I love the pressure. I failed my first time up and I got another opportunity and thankfully the ball found some grass behind the infield.”
USC coach Ray Tanner would just as soon have Thomas at the plate as anyone in a tight situation.
“He has a reputation for being that kind of guy,” Tanner said. “He seems to have better at bats when the chips are down.”
South Carolina rallied to tie the score on Jake Williams’ RBI single off of Trevor Gott, the fifth Kentucky pitcher, in the eighth. Jackie Bradley was hit by a pitch with one out and Christian Walker doubled to the left field corner to put runners at second and third. Morales walked to load the bases before Williams laced a single to center to score Bradley. Gott then struck out Thomas and pinch-hitter Greg Brodzinski to end the threat.
“I took myself out of that bat,” Thomas said. “The kid made some good pitches and I didn’t want that to happen again. I tried to battle and stay in there and be tough.”
The winning rally in the 10th started with a one-out double by Morales, his third of the day. Kentucky (15-13, 2-6) elected to intentionally walk Williams to put the force on at any base. Morales denied that strategy when he stole third with Thomas at the plate.
“(The pitcher) kind of forgot about me,” Morales said. “(Coach) Tanner kind of winked at me. I guess he trust me to steal third, not to steal second. I was able to get the jump.”
Tanner said Morales had the green light to run if he wanted it but the only thing was he had to be certain and not make the second out at third.
“Adrian probably has as much savvy about this game as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Tanner said. “He sees a situation, he will capitalize.”
Closer Matt Price (3-2) earned the victory with two innings of hitless relief. He combined with Bryan Harper and John Taylor to pitch five solid innings out of the bullpen in support of Colby Holmes, who gave up two runs in five innings with four strikeouts and no walks.
“I thought Colby Holmes gave us a quality start,” Tanner said. “I’ve seen him a little bit sharper than that but he didn’t walk anybody. Once again our bullpen came up big for us.”
|Lucas Witt cf/rf||5||1||2||1||0||0||3||0||0|
|Chad Wright lf||4||1||2||1||1||0||1||0||0|
|Taylor Black ss||5||0||0||0||0||2||2||3||2|
|Braden Kapteyn 1b||4||0||2||1||0||1||11||0||1|
|Mike Kaczmarek dh/p||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Thomas McCarthy 3b||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||2||0|
|J.T. Riddle rf/2b||3||1||1||0||1||0||1||0||0|
|Luke Maile c||3||0||0||0||0||0||5||2||1|
|Matt Reida 2b||2||0||0||0||0||2||3||5||1|
|Brian Adams ph/cf||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||0||0|
|Corey Littrell p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Nick Kennedy p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Alex Phillips p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Trevor Gott p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||0||0||0||1||0||3||3||1|
|Scott Wingo 2b||3||0||1||0||1||0||0||3||0|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||4||1||0||0||0||0||4||0||1|
|Christian Walker 1b||5||0||2||0||0||0||10||0||2|
|Adrian Morales 3b||3||2||3||0||2||0||2||2||0|
|Jake Williams dh/lf||4||0||1||1||1||0||1||0||1|
|Brady Thomas c||5||0||3||2||0||2||7||1||0|
|Robert Beary lf||2||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||1|
|Michael Roth ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Greg Brodzinski ph||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||3|
|Matt Price p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Evan Marzilli rf||4||0||1||1||0||1||2||0||0|
|Colby Holmes p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Bryan Harper p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
Note: 1 out, 2 runners LOB when the game ended.
E - Mooney(9). DP - S. Carolina 1. LOB - UK 6; S. Carolina 11. 2B - L. Witt(3); Walker(9); Morales 3(9); Thomas(4). HBP - Bradley Jr.. SH - L. Maile(3); Wingo(5). SB - L. Maile(4); Morales(3); Beary(1). CS - Walker(2); Marzilli(1).
|Trevor Gott L,1-3||2.0||4||1||1||2||2||0||0||0||1||10||12||3||1||46|
|Matt Price W,3-2||2.0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||6||6||1||3||25|
Win - Price (3-2). Loss - T. Gott (1-3). Save - None. WP - C. Littrell(3). HBP - by M. Kaczmarek (Bradley Jr.). BK - Holmes(1). PB - Thomas(3). Pitches/strikes: C. Littrell 91/53; N. Kennedy 3/3; A. Phillips 5/3; M. Kaczmarek 14/9; T. Gott 46/26; Holmes 78/52; Harper 14/8; Taylor 19/11; Price 25/14.
Umpires - HP: David Savage 1B: Danny Everett 3B: Scott Erby
Start: 4:37 pm
Holmes faced 1 batter in the 6th.
C. Littrell faced 1 batter in the 7th.