The South Carolina team that showed up Friday night looked a lot more like the one we've seen for the majority of this season: after one particularly rough inning, things fell apart and they were never able to get back in the game. Sigh.
Things started off promisingly enough, with Max Schrock hitting a two-out homer in the first inning, putting the Gamecocks up 1-0.
The Tigers tied the game in the next inning on a two-out RBI single by Mark Laird, and really, things could have been a lot worse. South Carolina benefited from both a double play and the Tigers leaving the bases loaded, helping avoid an early deficit.
Unfortunately, LSU was not deterred. They took the lead in the fourth inning, going up 2-1 on an throwing error by Schrock. The Tigers tacked on three insurance runs in the next inning. With two outs, Kade Scivicque knocked an RBI double, and Andrew Stevenson followed with a double of his own, making it 5-1. LSU added two more runs in the seventh inning, both of which came on another double by Scivicque.
The Gamecocks scored their only other run of the night in the bottom of the inning. Schrock and Kyle Martin knocked back-to-back base hits to start things off, and Alex Destino came through with a one-out RBI single to make it 7-2.
The Tigers' final two runs came in the next inning. Conner Hale singled with one out to get one run in, and Alex Bregman scored on a wild Preston Johson pitch for the second one.
South Carolina starter Clarke Schmidt wasn't extremely sharp, but he did a decent job until things fell apart in the middle innings. He worked 5.1 innings and allowed 10 hits, five runs, walked two batters and struck out two. He took the loss and drops to 2-2 on the season. Vince Fiori, Cody Mincey, and Johnson also took the mound for the Gamecocks in this game. Pitching coach Jerry Meyers was ejected in the fifth inning for complaining about bad calls. He had a valid argument. Because he was tossed, though, he's also suspended for Saturday's game according to an NCAA rule. That's a pretty big deal, considering he runs the show in terms of pitching and South Carolina's pitching situation is already shaky.
The Gamecocks were outhit 15-5 tonight and looked a lot ore like the lackluster offense we've seen for most of this season than the team that scored in the double digits multiple times in the past week. Let's hope the bats wake up again by Saturday night.
South Carolina drops to 32-23 overall and 13-16 in the SEC, while LSU improves to 45-9 overall and 20-8 in conference play. They'll meet for the rubber game on Saturday night, with first pitch scheduled for 8 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. Taylor Widener will likely start on the mound for the Gamecocks, who need one more conference victory to reach the magic number of 14, which is apparently what unofficially qualifies a team for the postseason.