baseball Edit

Late surge not enough, Gamecocks drop A&M rubber match

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS BASEBALL

Once again, South Carolina found itself right on the cusp of winning that elusive first SEC series of the season down one in the final inning with all the momentum. But, once again, the Gamecocks couldn't find a way to win, dropping the rubber match of the series.

Despite a late push, the Gamecocks lost 6-3 in game two of a doubleheader Saturday and have lost all six SEC series this year.

George Callil || Photo by Katie Dugan
George Callil || Photo by Katie Dugan

“It was heart-breaking. That guy just put a good swing on one and put it out of reach. It’s just baseball. We’ve been playing this game our whole lives," Luke Berryhill said. "We know sometimes it goes our way and sometimes it goes the other team’s way. You just have to do what you can to do the best thing next time.”

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After falling behind 4-1, the Gamecocks (23-17, 5-13 SEC) stormed all the way back to pull within a run heading into the final inning after a RBI double from Chris Cullen and Noah Campbell drawing a bases-loaded walk.

It looked like the had all the momentum but Dylan Harley walked the leadoff man in the inning and, after a sacrifice bunt and fly out to left, Brett Kerry gave up a two-run homer to Bryce Blaum.

For Kerry, it was his second appearance of the day just a few hours after throwing 51 pitches in three scoreless innings of game one. Head coach Mark Kingston said the plan was to only use Kerry, who he said felt fine, for a maximum of 10 pitches but Kerry just happened to hang a slider.

“It’s just one bad pitch. He’s been the best guy out of the pen for us all year,” Harley said. “When I got pulled I had 100 percent confidence in him. He just made a bad pitch, that’s it. It’s just baseball. It’s one pitch.”

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The latest series loss leaves this South Carolina coaching staff looking for answers offensively after putting up a total of eight runs on 13 hits the entire series, including just six runs on eight hits in 14 innings Saturday.

“There’s not an area I’m happy with in terms of being up to snuff right now,” Kingston said. “Our pitching needs to be better, our defense has improved probably as much as anything over the course of the year, and our offense isn’t what it needs to be. Every area of the game this team needs to be better in.”

It’s not for lack of want-to or effort with players giving everything they have to try and grab that elusive first series win in SEC play, but things haven’t gone the way they want.

Cam Tringali, battling a stomach bug, gutted through 4.1 innings, giving up four runs on six hits, three of those runs coming off four-straight hits in the third inning.

Offensively the team tried to fight their way back into it, getting two runs in the six and putting the go-ahead run in scoring position before George Callil struck out to end the threat.

“I thought he held his own. We didn’t know if he would pitch until about an hour before the 4 o’clock start. I think he gave us everything he had, and that’s all you can ask,” Kingston said. “I’ll say that about the entire team right now. They’re giving us everything they have right now. We just have to get better.”

Dylan Harley strung together his second quality appearance out of the bullpen, pitching two hitless, giving up one run and striking out three to just one walk.

Over his last two appearances (5.1 innings) he's allowed three earned runs and two walks but has struck out nine.

“It was a rubber match. The game was important. I told myself to keep doing what I’ve been doing: pound the zone. I got my defense behind me, I have Berryhill blocking everything behind the plate. It’s having confidence in my stuff, getting ahead of guys and pounding the zone. That’s all I did.”

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Key moment: The Gamecocks had all of the momentum, loading the bases with two outs and putting the tying run at third base but George Callil struck out to end the sixth inning.

Up next: The Gamecocks' brief three-game home stand ends as they hit the road for a neutral site midweek game. They'll play Charleston Southern at SRP Park in North Augusta Tuesday with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. on the SEC Network Plus.