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Pitching falters in 5-3 loss to UGA

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Chris Gillespie/GamecockCentral.com

Box Score | Notes and Quotes

Leading by one run in the seventh, South Carolina turned to its two best bullpen pitchers, Tyler Johnson and Josh Reagan, to finish off the game. They didn’t, giving up a combined three solo home runs to lose 5-3 and drop the series to Georgia.

Johnson came in for starter Adam Hill in the sixth inning and blew through the first three batters he faced, hitting 94 miles per hour on the gun. In the seventh though, he gave up a one-out homer to Daniel Nichols to tie the game at three.

Reagan would come in immediately after and, just like Johnson, pitch a scoreless frame. It wasn’t until the eighth inning that Reagan’s troubles started.

The lefty gave up back-to-back one out home runs as the Bulldogs took their first lead of the game. Reagan, who had a .31 ERA before Sunday, gave up a season-high two runs after only allowing three runs in 18 prior appearances. He was credited with the loss and moves to 1-1 on the year.

He said the team was the counting on him and Johnson to come in and stifle the Bulldog batters, and expected the same thing.

“I do. I know they do,” he said. “We just didn’t do our job today.”

This performance for Reagan comes one week after he got out of a bases-loaded, no out jam against Tennessee to preserve the win.

“They’ve been in that scenario all year and have gotten out of it,” left fielder Alex Destino said. “Those are the guys we are going to be looking to when they come to the park and we’re going to be just as confident the next time. Stuff like that’s going to happen, it’s all about how we respond to it.”

Johnson, who came into the game with a 3.97 ERA, gave up just one hit in 1.1 innings, which was the home run. After the game, head coach Chad Holbrook said he still believes in his bullpen.

“Our guys have thrown well all year long. They made a mistake,” he said. “Our bullpen’s been great for us all year. Last Sunday we had the bases loaded, nobody out and we won that one and lost this one. Sometimes that happens. Our bullpen’s one of the strengths of the team.”

Offensively, the Gamecocks (29-8, 11-4 SEC) rebounded from their four-hit performance Saturday with nine hits. Destino, who was pulled in the fifth inning Saturday, started in left field and batted fourth.

He said he pressured Holbrook to play and it worked out for him as he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

“Alex was obviously our offensive threat today, so tip of the cap to him for playing when he didn’t feel really well,” Holbrook said.

Offensively they struggled, however, with runners in scoring position. The Gamecocks left nine runners on base, seven of which were in scoring position.

Second baseman DC Arendas struck out three times with a runner in second and grounded into an inning-ending double play his last at-bat.

“You just have to get a hit with people out there,” Holbrook said. “There’s no way to pop out of a rut than to get a freaking hit when people are out there. We had to work our tail off to scratch a run across here and there. It was tough to score because of the way we were swinging.”

Aside from Destino, Jonah Bride, John Jones, LT Tolbert, Marcus Mooney and Gene Cone all registered hits. Jones had the Gamecocks’ only other RBI.

Holbrook said he’s optimistic after Sunday’s offensive performance, even though the team lost.

“There’s going to be series losses in this league. We’ve been lucky we’ve got three sweeps,” he said. “You’re in a good spot; it’s not like we have to climb up a hill. You just have to swing the bat like we’re capable of. And I saw some signs of that today that we’re getting back to who we are.”

This marks South Carolina’s third loss in four games and their first series loss to an unranked SEC team. It was Georgia’s first series win over a top-five team since 2001.

Destino said Holbrook’s message to the team was to focus on the positive and the fact the team has 11 conference wins in 15 tries. Holbrook, who said he’s a positive person, said he’s not worried about his team right now.

“Our guys played hard. They want to win in the damn worse way. And I’ve said all along that we’ve got some character in our locker room and we’ll bounce back.”

Starting lineups

South Carolina: RF, Gene Cone; 3B, Jonah Bride; DH, John Jones; LF, Alex Destino; CF, Dom Thompson-Williams; C, Chris Cullen; 1B, LT Tolbert; SS, Marcus Mooney; 2B, DC Arendas; SP, Adam Hill

Georgia: SS, Nick King; RF, Skyler Weber; 1B, Trevor Kieboom; LF, Keegan MGovern; C, Michael Curry; DH, Daniel Nichols; CF, Stephen Wrenn; 2B, LJ Talley; 3B, Mitchell Webb; SP, Bo Tucker

Pitching lines

South Carolina

Adam Hill: 5+ IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 3 K, 1 WP

Tyler Johnson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R (ER), 2 K

Josh Reagan: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 2 K

Georgia

Bo Tucker: 6+ IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 5 K

Drew Moody: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Line Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ----- R H E

South Carolina 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9 0

Georgia 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 5 8 1