South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks suffer first loss but win series against Belmont

South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston and his team had a great showing in games 1 and 3 of the series, but a game 2 loss was the season's first blemish.

South Carolina baseball first baseman Gavin Casas
South Carolina baseball first baseman Gavin Casas / Cyndi Chambers / USA TODAY NETWORK

After a sweep last weekend was followed by a perfect mid-week, South Carolina baseball won their second series of the season this weekend, taking 2 out of 3 against the Belmont Bruins. The game 2 loss was the Gamecocks' first defeat of the season, but USC was very impressive in the first and third games of the weekend tilt.

Eli Jones got the Friday start again, and he was very good for pitching coach Matt Williams. Jones was very good before a lengthy rain delay knocked him out of the game after 3 no-hit innings. Tyler Pitzer took over after the delay and was good in 3 innings, giving up 1 run while striking out 5. Tyler Dean and Joey Wittig combined for 3 scoreless to finish the night for Carolina.

The offense in game 1 was good. The Gamecocks scored 8 runs on 8 hits, 7 walks, and 2 hit-by-pitches. Dylan Brewer had 3 hits, and Ethan Petry and Gavin Casas joined him as players to make it on base at least 3 times. Parker Noland hit his first home run as a Gamecock, as well, as part of the 8-1 victory.

Game 2 was started by Dylan Eskew. Despite giving up just 3 hits and 1 walk over 5 innings, he gave up 4 runs, thanks in large part to the fact he hit three Bruins with pitches. Chris Veach and Austin Williams struggled, as well. It just wasn't the Gamecock pitch staff's day.

It wasn't the offense's day, either. Carolina plated just 2 runs on 9 hits, 2 walks, and 2 HBP. Dylan Brewer hit a triple, and Parker Noland and Gavin Casas added doubles. Only Brewer (3x) and Ethan Petry (2x) reached base more than once.

The defense was also bad on Saturday. The Gamecocks had 4 errors (Gavin Casas had 2, Ethan Petry had 1, and Lee Ellis had 1), and they gave up three extra unearned runs because of those errors. In all, Carolina dropped game 2 by a score of 11-2.

Mark Kingston's team got back on track in the rubber match, winning the series (in an 8-inn, 10-run rule game) after scoring a lot of runs behind starter Roman Kimball. The right-hander went 4 innings and surrendered 1 run. He was backed up by Matthew Becker who got the win after striking out 5 batters in 3 scoreless innings. Garrett Gainey was the final pitcher, sitting down the Bruins' 8th-inning chance on just 10 total pitches.

The offense bounced back from their game 2 dip as 5 Gamecocks reached base at least 3 times (Kennedy Jones, Ethan Petry, Cole Messina, Dylan Brewer, and Talmadge LeCroy). Jones, in his first start in garnet and black (LF, leadoff), smacked a home run, and Cole Messina hit two long balls, including a "walk-off" that ended the game 12-1 via the 10-run rule.

During the 3-game series, South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston started multiple lineups. Parker Noland (2B), Ethan Petry (RF), Cole Messina (C), Talmadge LeCroy (3B), Dylan Brewer (CF), Gavin Casas (1B), and Will Tippett (SS) started all three games. Blake Jackson (LF) and Tyler Causey (DH) started the first two, and Kennedy Jones (LF) and Ryan Bakes (DH) started the series finale.

Carson Hornung (PH), Ryan Bakes (PH), Kennedy Jones (PH), and Lee Ellis (SS) all saw action off of the bench in the series.

The Gamecocks' best pitchers on the weekend were starters Eli Jones and Roman Kimball and relievers Matthew Becker, Tyler Pitzer, Tyler Dean, Garrett Gainey, and Joey Wittig. On offense, Dylan Brewer (reached base 3x in each game), Cole Messina (2 HR), and Ethan Petry (reached base 9x) were the top performers.

South Carolina baseball will play again on Tuesday this week against Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs (broadcast on SEC Network+) before the annual rivalry series against Clemson over the weekend.




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