Junior catcher Luke Maile hit a two-run, walk-off home run to center field in the bottom of the ninth to lift No. 16 Kentucky to a series-opening 4-3 win over No. 2 South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference baseball opener Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (19-0, 1-0 SEC) is off to the best start in school history, equaling the 2007 and 2008 teams' starts.
UK leads the NCAA in wins, winning streak and is the only undefeated team in college baseball.
The walk-off home run was Kentucky's first since Lance Ray belted a three-run shot against LSU in 2010.
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The Wildcats entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by a run and the top of the order coming up. South Carolina standout reliever Evan Beal (1-1), who struck out three in the eighth inning, hit Austin Cousino. Zac Zellers bunted Cousino to second.
Then on a 2-1 pitch to Maile, from Crestview Hills, smacked the ball to the deepest part of the park, sailing over the fence above the outstretched glove of center fielder Evan Marzilli.
The homer was Maile's fourth of the year and his staggering seventh game-winning RBI of the year.
South Carolina led 3-0 after six, including a homer by second baseman Erik Payne in the fourth.
UK got two runs in the seventh, when Maile walked with the bases loaded and first baseman A.J. Reed drove in a run with one of his two hits. He has hit in 10 straight games.
Michael Roth, South Carolina's All-America starting pitcher. came in with a 0.93 ERA in 29 innings. He allowed two UK runs over 62⁄3 innings.
UK starter Taylor Rogers went 52⁄3 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs. Tim Peterson (2-0) got the win after getting two outs in the eighth inning.
The teams play again Saturday at 2 p.m.