South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks drop series to Crimson Tide

After sweeping Vanderbilt last weekend, South Carolina baseball fell to the Alabama Crimson Tide in ugly fashion this weekend.

South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston
South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

South Carolina baseball fans were less than pleased with the direction of their program two weeks ago. A recent 2-game sweep at the hands of the rival Clemson Tigers was compounded by a series loss to the less-talented Ole Miss Rebels.

A sweep of the Vanderbilt Commodores at Founders Park stayed the wrath of angry Gamecock fans, but harsh feelings are welling up once again within a fanbase that has not seen their favorite team reach the College World Series since making three-straight finals (winning two) from 2010-2012.

Playing against an Alabama Crimson Tide team with a first-year head coach, the Gamecocks got embarrassed in Tuscaloosa, losing the series to a team that many around college baseball feel is ranked higher than their actual talent level. Many of the problems that were present for South Carolina baseball before the Vandy series (especially on offense) resurfaced as the Gamecocks lost a series to a team from a power conference for the third time in four tries.

Game 1 of the series (on Thursday as the series was shifted up a day because of Easter) was very winnable, but USC fell short. Being up 2-0 until the 5th and then 3-1 until the 7th, Carolina managed just 3 total runs despite 6 extra-base hits. The Gamecocks left 8 runners on base and had a K-BB ratio of 10-4 for the game. The defense also wasn't very good, though, they were only dinged for one inconsequential error early in the game.

Eli Jones had a nice effort as the game's starter, but the bullpen (which wasn't terrible) couldn't hold 'Bama back enough to make up for the situational offensive woes late in the game. After Gavin Casas' home run in the 7th that brought the score to 3-1, the Gamecocks got a double (with no outs) in the 8th and another (with two outs) in the 9th but couldn't plate either runner to lose 4-3. Gavin Casas (3-4 with a home run) and Parker Noland (2-5 with 2 doubles) were the top offensive players.

Game 2 was another strange ball game as the Gamecocks charged back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the score 6-6 in the 6th inning. After some struggles from starter Dylan Eskew, Matthew Becker did a good job in relief but was left in the game too long (he had already thrown over 4 innings of 1-run ball), allowing Alabama to start a rally in the 8th in which they eventually scored 7 runs to put the game away. Parker Marlatt couldn't stop the onslaught in the 8th inning, either, as he accounted for 3 of the 7 earned runs.

The Gamecock offense struck out 14 times on Friday night (including 5 looking!!!), and those strikeouts doomed USC to leaving 10 runners on base. Outside of the 5th inning when they scored 4 runs, Carolina went 1-15 with runners on base in the game. Despite getting 12 free base runners (11 walks and 1 HBP), the Gamecocks only brought 3 of those runners around to score as they fell 13-6 to lose the series.

Game 3 on Saturday didn't start so well for South Carolina baseball as Tyler Pitzer gave up 3 home runs to Tide hitters. Thankfully, for the Gamecocks, they were all solo shots, and the Alabama lead was just 4-0. Ty Good came in and held Alabama at bay over 3 innings, allowing his team to make a comeback. After the comeback, Garrett Gainey came in and had a scoreless 8th inning before the Carolina defense made things far too interesting in the 9th. After Alabama rallied and had the tying run on third base, Chris Veach picked up the save to preserve the 9-8 win when Talmadge LeCroy deked the base runner and threw behind him for the out.

After an ugly offensive showing through 4 innings, the YardCocks put together 9 runs over the next 4 innings, including 5 in the 7th. Dylan Brewer started things off with a 2-run homer, and Cole Messina, Kennedy Jones, and Ethan Petry all ripped doubles. For the game, Gavin Casas got on base 3 times, and Messina reached 4 times.

The win in the series finale salvaged a little something out of the weekend, but it didn't make the weekend a success. South Carolina baseball has only won one of their four series against power conference opponents (last week against Vandy), and having a 5-4 record in the league despite sweeping Vanderbilt and playing two teams who likely will finish in the bottom half of the standings is tough to swallow, especially with a tough test coming next weekend.

Carolina will look to right the ship on Wednesday against Georgia Southern before another tough SEC series against top-5 Texas A&M. All four games next week will be in Columbia.




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