South Carolina baseball: Gamecocks drop series to Ole Miss

South Carolina baseball dropped a 2nd straight SEC series.

The South Carolina baseball team dropped a second consecutive series over the weekend, getting swept on the road at the hands of the Ole Miss Rebels. The Gamecock offense struggled for another trio of contests, totaling just eight runs in the three-game set. With the losses, Mark Kingston’s group drops to 26-15, with an 11-10 mark in conference play.

The series started out like each of the previous six, with South Carolina bats failing to help out starting pitcher Thomas Farr. Farr didn’t have his best stuff, allowing four earned runs over five innings of work, and the Gamecocks mustered just two hits for the third SEC game in four tries. The team struck out 17 times and didn’t plate a run until the seventh frame.

With bad weather coming in for Sunday’s contest, officials opted to play a doubleheader on Saturday. The Gamecocks jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first meeting, after a Collin Burgess solo home run in the top of the second inning. The Rebels, though, would reel off the next seven runs to blow open the game. South Carolina notched two runs in the seventh to get the score to 7-3, but they wouldn’t get any closer.

The final game was much of the same, as the Gamecocks jumped out to another early lead, only to watch it deteriorate. A three-run Wes Clarke homer put South Carolina up 3-0 in the top of the second, but the Rebels responded with four runs over the next two frames. The Gamecocks would tie the game at four in the fifth, but Ole Miss would take the lead back in the bottom of the inning. The Rebels would keep the Gamecocks off the board the rest of the way, winning game three by a score of 6-4.

Takeaways

South Carolina pitching knew it would have its hands full with Ole Miss, who leads the conference in hitting, but this was easily the worst collective performance from the starting rotation this season. Thomas Farr, Jordan Brannon, and Will Sanders combined to allow 13 runs (12 earned) over 12 innings of work, walking 10 hitters, throwing five wild pitches, and plunking a batter. The staff saw its ERA in SEC matchups balloon from 3.45 to 3.84.

The pitching struggled, but the offense didn’t help. Friday’s opener was the third time in four SEC contests that the Gamecocks mustered two hits or less. Hitting improved a bit in Saturday’s doubleheader, getting seven hits in each game, but the run support wasn’t enough. Ole Miss entered the weekend with an ERA over 5.00 in conference play, but they held the Gamecocks to just eight runs in 27 innings (2.67 ERA).

The Fallout

After losing five of their last six SEC contests, there is a legitimate possibility that the Gamecocks will fall off the No. 1 seed line, losing their chance to host a regional. South Carolina had been projected as the No. 14 seed prior to the sweep.

The loss also likely puts the Gamecocks out of contention for a regular season crown. South Carolina sits four games back from top ranked Arkansas in the SEC standings with just three series left to play.

What’s Next?

The Gamecocks get a four-game homestand this week as they try to right the ship. First, South Carolina welcomes North Florida for a midweek matchup, before hosting the No. 4 Mississippi State Bulldogs in a three-game set over the weekend.