#2 Gamecocks Take Series Closer From MSU, 13-4
The Bulldogs forced Sunday's rubber game with a dramatic 5-3 win Saturday afternoon. However, the Maroon and White could not build on an early 3-2 lead in the series finale. MSU still remains within two games of the Western Division lead despite dropping its fifth league series in six weekends.
South Carolina improves to 31-8 overall and 14-4 in league play. The Gamecocks are tied with Florida and Vanderbilt for the overall lead in the conference standings. MSU fell to 24-16 and 7-11. The Bulldogs remain two games behind division leaders Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss.
The Gamecocks pounded out 18 hits - tying for the most allowed by MSU pitching this season. South Carolina rallied from the 3-2 deficit with four scores in the fourth inning and five more scores in the fifth inning. A total of six Bulldog pitchers were used before Sunday's play came to a conclusion.
"The fourth and fifth innings were killers," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Right now we are searching for the right guy on Sundays to go deeper in the game."
Cody Freeman and Jarrod Parks started the third inning uprising with back-to-back one-out singles. Trey Johnson followed with an RBI-single. Wes Thigpen drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt attempt. An RBI-double by Ryan Collins pushed the Bulldogs on top, 3-2.
The Bulldogs then turned to Devin Jones to start the fourth inning. Jones (2-5) did not escape the fourth, allowing three hits and four runs (all earned). The Gamecocks chased Jones with back-to-back RBI-singles by Christian Walker and Brady Thomas.
In relief, Victor Diaz was greeted by back-to-back RBI-singles by Jake Williams and Adrian Morales before working the Bulldogs out of that tight spot. Diaz was chased during the five-run fifth inning.
A three-run triple by Thomas was the big blow in that at-bat. Williams also had an RBI-double. Taylor Stark followed Diaz to the mound in the fifth inning. Kendall Graveman relieved Stark and pitched the final 4.2 innings. Graveman allowed four hits and two runs (both earned).
The Bulldogs scratched for a lone run in the seventh inning. A two-run home run by Walker capped the USC offensive attack in the ninth inning.
For the weekend, Walker had 10 base hits for the Gamecocks. The USC first baseman reached base in 14 of 15 plate appearances. Williams also had four hits. Thomas and DeSean Anderson each added three hits.
The Bulldogs finished with 12 hits. Collins had three hits, while C.T. Bradford, Freeman and Parks each added multiple hits. Parks has now hit safely in 13 straight games.
John Taylor (3-1) picked up the win, with four innings of middle relief work. Taylor allowed four hits and one run (earned), with three strikeouts and a walk. Starting pitcher Forrest Koumas was chased during the MSU three-run third inning.
The Bulldogs play no midweek games due to final exams on campus. MSU returns to SEC play by hosting Western Division rival Alabama next weekend. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide will play at 2 p.m. doubleheader Saturday and 1:30 p.m. single game Sunday.