South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks fall to NC State, will play JMU again in elimination game

South Carolina baseball couldn't pull off the win against NC State and will play again against James Madison with NCAA Tournament elimination on the line.
The South Carolina baseball infield
The South Carolina baseball infield / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

After South Carolina baseball knocked off the James Madison Dukes in a come-from-behind thriller on Friday, the Gamecocks met up with Raleigh Regional host and #1-seeded NC State on Saturday in the winners' bracket.

The second game of USC's NCAA Tournament was a tight one, as well, but Carolina was forced to trot out a new-look lineup. Ethan Petry was hit in the hand on Friday, resulting in a fracture according to head coach Mark Kingston, and the star sophomore couldn't play on Saturday. Dylan Brewer was inserted into the lineup and played left field, shifting Kennedy Jones to designated hitter, Dalton Reeves to catcher, and Cole Messina to first base.

The contest was not nearly as ugly to watch as Friday's, but a late-game error and plenty of double plays again cost Carolina in a big way.

Garrett Gainey started on the mound and pitched decently well. The lefty made his way through six innings of four-run ball but didn't have his usual strikeout stuff, fanning just four Wolfpack hitters.

In the 1st inning, Gainey gave up a long ball to Garrett Pennington, and then neither team could get anything going until Will Tippett hit one over the fence in the 3rd. The 1-1 tie didn't last long, though, as NC State pushed two runs across on another Pennington big fly to go up 3-1 in the bottom half of the frame.

Dylan Brewer, in his first real action since April, homered in the top of the 5th, but once again, NC State answered with a homer of their own, this time off the bat of Eli Serrano. With the 'Pack up 4-2, nothing changed on the scoreboard until Brewer stepped to the plate again. This time, the senior smacked the ball even further over the wall in right field, tying the game with a 2-run shot. However, as they did each time previously, NC State got a run back as Connor McCreary and Matthew Becker struggled with their command, ultimately leading to a Becker bases-loaded walk.

The 5-4 lead grew to 6-4 in the 8th as Dalton Reeves was charged with a throwing error for hitting a base runner in the helmet while he was retreating to 3rd base. The carom allowed the runner to score, and the Gamecocks' 9th inning seemed tighter as a result. Dalton Reeves earned a single up the middle, but two ugly strikeouts and a weak pop-up followed to end the game as a 6-4 loss for South Carolina baseball.

The pitching was good enough to win on Saturday, but the one bad inning of walks will haunt the USC staff. The lineup wasn't terrible, but the 8-hole and 9-hole hitters (Dylan Brewer and Will Tippett) accounted for all 4 of the Gamecocks' RBI, 3 of their 4 runs scored, and 3 of their 7 total hits. Getting a little bit better showing from both the pitching and the offense will be needed if Carolina is going to fight their way out of the Raleigh Regional.

The Gamecocks' loss pushes Mark Kingston's team into the losers' bracket where they will face off with James Madison once again on Sunday. The game is slated for Noon ET and will be available for streaming on ESPNU. The winner will get a chance to play NC State later in the day. If the Wolfpack win, they advance to the Super Regionals. If the team that emerges out of the losers' bracket wins, a winner-take-all game will be played on Monday.


Next. South Carolina Baseball: Another Gamecock pitcher entering transfer portal ahead of NCAA Tournament. South Carolina Baseball: Another Gamecock pitcher entering transfer portal ahead of NCAA Tournament. dark