After spending most of the season looking like they'd generally forgotten how to play baseball and/or just weren't very good at it, the Gamecocks appear to have woken up in a big way. They took the series against Texas A&M last weekend, destroyed USC Upstate on Tuesday, and then fought back from what could've been an insurmountable deficit - considering how this season has gone - to get a huge victory over the nation's top-ranked team.
South Carolina was on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a home run from the injured-but-apparently-well-enough-to-homer Max Schrock. Unfortunately, LSU tied the game in the top of the second inning with a homer from Chris Chinea.
The Tigers took the lead in the fourth inning, when they scored four runs. Conner Hale led off with a single, Chinea knocked a one-out base hit, and Jake Fraley tallied an RBI single to put LSU up 2-1. Jared Foster followed with another base hit, then Danny Zardon brought in two more runs with a single of his own. A sac fly from Mark Laird made it 5-1.
The Gamecocks got one run back in the bottom of the inning. Alex Destino singled with two outs, advanced on an error, and came home on an RBI double by Hunter Taylor.
LSU got that run right back, though, in the fifth, on a two-out RBI double from Chinea.
South Carolina tied things up in the sixth inning. Schrock led off with a single, Kyle Martin followed with a double, and Schrock came home on an Elliott Caldwell groundout. Taylor brought in another run with a two-out RBI base hit, then DC Arendas crushed a home run to tie the game at 6-6.
The Tigers' pitching went off the rails and the Gamecocks took the lead in the next inning. Gene Cone started things off with a single, SEC Player of the Week Marcus Mooney walked, and Martin was walked intentionally to load the bases with one out. Caldwell, Destino, and Taylor were all then walked - though not on purpose - to force in three runs. An RBI sac fly from Arendas brought home South Carolina's final run of the night.
LSU had one more run left in them, and it came in the ninth inning, when Hale singled with one out, then came home on an RBI base hit from Chinea.
Starter Jack Wynkoop wasn't quite as sharp as he has been, though he didn't get much help from the defense in the early going, as their streak of error-free baseball came to an end. Wynkoop worked 5.1 innings and gave up 11 hits, six runs, didn't walk any batters, hit one, and struck out two. Brandon Murray took over in a short relief appearance, then Reed Scott pitched the final three innings of the game. He allowed three hits, one run, walked one batter, and struck one out. He earned the win and is now 2-3 on the season.
The Gamecocks picked a heck of a time to begin clicking on all cylinders (though it would be nice if they could lose the errors). If they can keep this up for the rest of the series, things could get pretty interesting.
With the win, South Carolina improves to 32-22 overall and 13-15 in the SEC, while the Tigers drop to 44-9 overall and 19-8 in conference play. The teams will meet for the second game of the series on Friday night at Carolina Stadium, with first pitch scheduled for 8 p.m.