South Carolina Baseball: Gamecock regular season mercifully comes to a close after 6th loss in a row

South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston and his team finished up another tough series by suffering a series sweep against the Tennessee Volunteers.
South Carolina baseball outfielder Blake Jackson sliding back into first base during the Gamecocks' series against the Tennessee Volunteers
South Carolina baseball outfielder Blake Jackson sliding back into first base during the Gamecocks' series against the Tennessee Volunteers / Randy Sartin/Special To The News

There's no nice way to talk about South Carolina baseball right now. After seeming to put the up-and-down nature of the 2024 season behind them with back-to-back series wins over the Kentucky Wildcats and Missouri Tigers, the Gamecocks were dominated in a 3-game sweep by the Georgia Bulldogs and then had to travel to the #1-ranked Tennessee Volunteers this weekend.

USC didn't fare any better against the Vols as a three-game sweep was the unfortunate result once again.

The first game of the series came on Thursday night, and it was a similar story to the Georgia series on the mound. Gamecock pitches Ty Good and Tyler Pitzer didn't have their best stuff and didn't look particularly comfortable on the hill, a recipe for disaster against one of the country's top offenses. Even after being given a 1-0 lead, Good gave up a lead-off homer and had two wild pitches in the 1st inning before allowing 4 runs in the 3rd frame. The UT offense took advantage of Carolina's less-than-stellar pitching day as they scored 9 runs on 9 hits and 6 walks/HBPs.

The offense wasn't awful on Thursday, but it wasn't good enough to cover for a poor pitching performance. Ethan Petry hit a 1st inning long ball, and Cole Messina also pushed a ball over the fence. However, a Dalton Reeves double was the only other extra-base hit, and those three big hits yielded the only three RBI of the game. The final score of 9-3 somehow felt even worse than that.

Friday's game 2 was very similar to the opener in final result, but the loss might have been more demoralizing. Garrett Gainey pitched well as the starter, but, as has been a common refrain in 2024, he was left in the game too long. After going 5 1/3 innings scoreless, Gainey surrendered 4 runs on 2 homers before being removed from the game. Jake McCoy and Parker Marlatt combined to load the bases in the 7th inning, too, and Blake Burke smacked a grand slam to go up 8-3.

The offense caught a break in the 2nd inning as two Volunteers errors helped 3 Gamecocks touch home plate in the frame. After that, though, Mark Kingston's team managed just two hits, both of which were singles. The final score of 8-3 actually was closer than the play on the field for most of the day.

The series finale was equally frustrating offensively. The Gamecocks had six hits (all singles), and three of those base runners were erased with double play balls. The YardCocks managed to plate one run on an RBI single from Talmadge LeCroy, but as that was the only inning in which Carolina had more than one baserunner, that was the only run of the game for the visitors.

Gamecock pitching held their own against the elite offense they faced on Saturday. Dylan Eskew opened well with two scoreless innings, and Matthew Becker and Eli Jones should have combined for just one or two earned runs allowed, but the USC defense gave up some extra baserunners (and forfeited outs) by not making plays. Even so, the staff gave up just 4 total runs, a solid day against Tennessee. The final score stood 4-1, though, as USC lost their sixth straight.

With a 13-17 record in SEC play, the Gamecocks are flirting with the NCAA Tournament bubble. Though they likely are in as of today, if Carolina does not win a game in the SEC Tournament next week, and a few smaller conference teams steal some unexpected bids to Regional play, USC's postseason future could be in jeopardy.

With 21 losses on the year, the Gamecocks now have their 6th season in the Mark Kingston era with more than 20 losses (the 2020 season was cut short, so that's every full season of his tenure). That had only happened two other times since 2009.

South Carolina baseball's season will have at least one more guaranteed game, however, as they will play in the SEC Tournament on Tuesday. Opponent, game time, and television/streaming information will be announced later.




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