South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks fall, ending their 2024 season

South Carolina baseball faced off with the James Madison Dukes again on Sunday, but this time, the Gamecocks couldn't pull of the win, ending their 2024 season.
South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston
South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston / Angelina Alcantar/News Sentinel / USA

With two games played in the Raleigh Regional, Mark Kingston's South Carolina baseball team was 1-1, meaning Sunday's midday conflict with the James Madison Dukes (their second in three days) was an NCAA Tournament elimination game. The winner would get the privilege of playing the NC State Wolfpack, needing two wins over State to advance to the Supers. The loser would be going home.

Historically, the losers' bracket is not kind to Regional teams, especially for teams who are not hosting their Regional. In the modern era of the postseason, South Carolina baseball has never advanced to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament after falling into the losers' bracket on the road of a Regional.

The difficult climb to the top of the Regional was going to be a tough one as Gavin Casas remained out with a broken bone in his hand (he had surgery just prior to the Regional), and Ethan Petry was a game-time decision with one of his own. Petry elected to give it a go and served as the game's designated hitter, shifting Kennedy Jones back to LF, Dylan Brewer to 1st, Cole Messina back behind the plate, and Dalton Reeves to the bench.

The game started with Carolina getting two runners on thanks to a walk and an HBP, but the offense delivered some soft contact to end the threat. The weakly-hit balls would become a theme throughout this game.

Dylan Eskew got the ball from pitching coach Matt Williams, and the veteran pitched really well. Despite clearly running on fumes in his last inning pitched, Eskew made it through 5 frames with just three hits and one run allowed, a solo shot off the bat of Mike Mancini. He stayed in to earn a SportsCenter Top-10 worthy play in the 6th before exiting in favor of Tyler Pitzer.

Unfortunately for Eskew and his South Carolina baseball squad, the Gamecock offense was MIA for most of this game. An Ethan Petry double (yes, with a broken bone in his hand) in the 6th inning was the team's only extra-base hit up until that point, but even though the gapper came with no outs and Petry advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, USC couldn't bring him home as Parker Noland grounded out to the right side of the infield for the 8th time in three games (yes, really) and Kennedy Jones and Dylan Brewer both struck out.

After the Brewer whiff, the Gamecocks were 0-19 with runners in scoring position over the past three days, and, frankly, it was a picture of what most of the 2024 season (and much of the non-2023 Mark Kingston era in Columbia) has looked like.

Tyler Pitzer held the Dukes off the scoreboard in the 6th after relieving Eskew. In the 8th, Pitzer gave up another home run to Mancini, giving the Dukes a 2-0 lead.

As things turned out, James Madison didn't need the insurance run, though, as South Carolina baseball's season ended with a shutout loss in Raleigh. An offseason autopsy will come later.

The Gamecock offseason begins a bit earlier than fans had hoped, and there is sure to be lots of conversation about changes in the program over the next several weeks.


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