State Drops Series Opener To #2 Gamecocks, 8-2
The Bulldogs fell on a Friday night in league play for a second straight week. MSU is now 23-15 overall and 6-10 in league play. South Carolina maintained its first place status in the overall league race, while moving to 30-7 and 13-3.
The Bulldogs were battling USC ace Michael Roth. A starting pitcher in last season's national championship game, Roth entered Friday night's start as the conference leader in both victories (eight) and ERA (1.24).
Still the Bulldogs produced lone runs in the first and second innings. MSU stranded a pair of runners in the third inning and only trailed 3-2 entering the fourth inning. However, the Maroon and White only managed seven base runners and three hits the remainder of the way.
South Carolina expanded its one-run lead with two runs in the fourth inning and single scores in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings. Roth (9-1) was lifted with one out in the seventh inning. He allowed three hits and two runs (one earned), with four strikeouts and three walks.
"Roth is a very good pitcher who had command of all three of his pitches," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "We didn't have good at-bats against him. South Carolina is a very good team and we knew they would keep it a low-scoring game. We didn't execute well enough to win tonight."
USC struck first in the first inning. Christian Walker started things with a two-out single. After a catcher's interference call extended the inning, Adrian Morales made the Bulldogs pay with an RBI-double.
In the MSU first inning, C.T. Bradford drew a leadoff walk. A passed ball moved Bradford to second base and a sacrifice bunt by Brent Brownlee advanced Bradford to third base. Bradford later scored on an RBI-single by Jarrod Parks.
The Gamecocks took the lead for good with a pair of scores in the second inning. This time, a walk and infield error set the stage. Again the Gamecocks cashed in with a two-run double from ninth-place hitter Robert Beary.
The Bulldogs answered with Jonathan Ogden's seventh home run of the season in the home half of the second inning. However, the hosts would not tally again.
Evan Marzilli increased the Gamecock's advantage with a towering two-run home run in the fourth inning. For the USC left fielder, it was his second round-tripper of the season.
MSU starter Chris Stratton (4-5) was lifted after a leadoff single in the sixth inning. Stratton allowed nine hits and seven runs (five earned), with three strikeouts and a walk.
The Bulldogs only managed five hits off four USC pitchers. Parks extended his hit streak to 11 straight games and 14 straight conference games.
The Gamecocks finished with 14 hits, including a four-hit night by Walker. Brady Thomas, Peter Mooney, Williams and Marzilli each added multiple hits for the victors.
The Easter weekend series resumes with a 6:06 p.m. first pitch Saturday night. Fox Sports Net South will have the regional broadcast. MSU is scheduled to start junior left-hander Nick Routt (0-2, 4.91 ERA), while USC is scheduled to start sophomore right-hander Colby Holmes (3-1, 4.19). The series finale is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.