Koumas delivers sweep after being hospitalized
No. 3 South Carolina 4, Kentucky 1
COLUMBIA -- Forrest Koumas spent the better part of the week in the hospital, but you would have had no idea watching the South Carolina freshman pitch Sunday afternoon.
Koumas threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, in a 4-1 victory against Kentucky that delivered a sweep for the third-ranked Gamecocks in front of 7,513 fans at Carolina Stadium.
Koumas was in the hospital from Monday evening until Thursday morning due to an allergic reaction to peanut oil. He was cleared by trainers and doctors, and coach Ray Tanner went with the Elgin native Sunday. Not that Koumas was giving him much of a choice.
"I know that he's young and anxious and he was going to tell me that he could go. I didn't expect anything less," Tanner said of Koumas. "But I got a little bit more than what I thought he could give."
Koumas is now 3-0 this season, but Sunday marked his first victory as a USC starter.
"I felt good before the game," Koumas said. "I feel great now."
The Gamecocks (22-5, 7-2 SEC) took the series from the Wildcats (15-14, 2-7) despite being without starter Steven Neff (shoulder) and right fielder Adam Matthews (hamstring).
USC lost just two SEC series in 2010, to Florida and Kentucky, and it's avenged those series losses the past two weekends. It has now won 10 of 11 dating back to the SEC opener against Georgia.
South Carolina held Kentucky to five runs and 12 hits in the series, but it did hit eight batters, including six on Sunday.
Koumas, who said earlier in the week his curveball sometimes slips out of his hand, hit three. Two, including the game's leadoff hitter, were on the curveball. John Taylor, razor-sharp all season with a 0.40 ERA coming in, hit cleanup hitter Braden Kapteyn in the eighth and ninth innings. Kapteyn scored the only Kentucky run in the eighth.
The baserunners started to pile up for the Wildcats late, but USC avoided the big inning.
Taylor got Chad Wright to fly out to leave the bases loaded in the seventh. Taylor struck out pinch hitter Thomas McCarthy to end the eighth with the bases loaded.
Bryan Harper relieved Taylor with two down in the ninth, walking Mike Kaczmarek to load the bases before striking out J.T. Riddle to end the game. Harper, who earned his first save, fell behind Riddle 3-0 before throwing three straight strikes past an idle Riddle.
"They made a run at us, certainly got some runners on in the end," Tanner said, "but we continue to do a pretty good job on the mound."
South Carolina threatened to break open the game in the first, after the first four batters reached. Christian Walker's single delivered Peter Mooney, the leadoff hitter who had three hits and scored twice.
Scott Wingo scored on Adrian Morales' double play, but left-hander Taylor Rogers (2-3) limited the damage to two runs. The sophomore settled in from there, allowing no hits from a two-out Mooney single in the second until a Robert Beary two-out double in the sixth.
South Carolina hosts USC Upstate on Tuesday night before hitting the road for a three-game set at Tennessee, beginning Thursday in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.