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May 2, 2014

USC falls flat in Athens

Grayson Greiner

Chad Holbrook

ATHENS, Ga. - When you get just three hits in a game, you have to play perfect to win.

No. 9 South Carolina didn't, and it walked away with a disappointing 3-1 loss to Georgia at Foley Field on Friday night.

The loss snapped an eight-game losing streak for Georgia, including six-straight SEC games.

Tied at 1 going into the bottom of the eighth after Grayson Greiner crushed a home run to left in the top of the frame, the Gamecocks had momentum on their side after getting handcuffed all night by Georgia starter Ryan Lawlor.

With Jordan Montgomery looking strong after giving up just six hits and a run through seven innings, he came on to pitch the eighth and immediately allowed a single to left-center from No. 8 hitter Skyler Weber. Mike Bell tried to bunt him over, but the short throw from Montgomery to Jordan Gore covering first was high and popped out of Gore's glove. Gore was charged with the error, USC's first of the game, and runners were at the corner with none away.

From there USC coach Chad Holbrook turned to closer Joel Seddon, and Seddon immediately delivered with a grounder back to the mound that he fired home to get the lead runner. With runners at first and second and one away, Seddon got a double-play ball from Conor Welton that Gore gloved and tossed to Mooney, but Mooney's throw to first was wild, allowing Bell to score. Welton then stole second and scored a batter later when Hunter Cole singled him home from third to make the score 3-1. Both runs were unearned.

The Gamecocks threatened in the ninth with one out when Mooney walked, but pinch-hitter Brison Celek grounded into a double play to end the game as Lawlor completed his mastery of USC with a complete-game three-hitter. It was Lawlor's third complete game in his last four outings.

The three hits by USC were the fewest of the season. The previous low was four against Arkansas in a 2-1 loss. South Carolina's one through four hitters went 0-13. Besides Greiner, who had two hits, Tanner English was the only other Gamecock to record a hit.

"That wasn't South Carolina baseball by any stretch tonight," Holbrook said. "Give (Lawlor) credit, he pitched a real good game, he had good stuff , but we didn't do enough against him to put any pressure on him whatsoever. And then our defense let our pitching staff down."

"Just too many mistakes to win a game on the road in this league."

Georgia's first break of the night came before the game even started. Fielding balls during batting practice, DC Arendas took a ball hard to the head on a bad hop that kept him out of the lineup for the evening, forcing Joey Pankake to remain at third and Patrick Harrington to come in to play left field for Elliott Caldwell, who did not make the trip to Athens. Both Pankake and Harrington were 0-for-3. In right field, Gene Cone also went 0-3 playing for injured Connor Bright.

Holbrook refused to let injuries and bad luck account for the Gamecocks' loss Friday night.

"You can look at it one way or the other," Holbrook said. "You can feel sorry for yourself or you can strap it on and go out there and compete and fight against somebody and let the chips fall where they may.

"I think we felt sorry for ourselves. It was disappointing."

Jordan Montgomery (L, 6-4) took his fourth loss of the year as the Gamecocks fell to 34-12, 12-10 in the SEC.

UP NEXT: The two teams play tomorrow (Saturday) at 1 p.m. Jack Wynkoop (5-3, 2.14 ERA)) will take the mound for the Gamecocks against Georgia's Robert Tyler (4-4, 2.85 ERA).

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