Rain shortens game, Gamecocks swept
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS BASEBALL
COLUMBIA, MO.—South Carolina’s rough weekend in Missouri got a little rougher Sunday afternoon.
After being nearly no-hit Saturday in an 11-run loss, the Gamecocks put up more runs Sunday but lost 9-7 in a game shortened with severe weather moving into the area.
It’s the second time they’ve been swept this season, the first time that’s happened since 2013.
“You have to keep working and you have to keep evaluating,” Mark Kingston said. “That’s what this is all about at this point. We have to keep working and keep evaluating.”
After seven conference series, the Gamecocks find themselves tied for last place in the SEC with just five conference wins and looking for any answers to try and win more games to get into the SEC Tournament in May.
Kingston said after the Texas A&M series last weekend he’s tried almost every option to get things going and after another series loss, he said it’s just about taking advantage of the remaining 11 games—nine in the SEC—on the schedule.
“We’re all very fortunate to be a part of South Carolina baseball,” Kingston said. “There’s no time for anybody to feel sorry for themselves. They need to take advantage of every day they have in the program.”
The Gamecocks (24-20, 5-16 SEC) took the lead in the seventh inning but saw that quickly evaporate after Sawyer Bridges (2-1, 5.74 ERA) gave up three runs over the next 1.1 innings, including a go-ahead, two-run homer to Peter Zimmermann.
After that, Dylan Harley got out of the inning before play was suspended due to rain and lightning in the area. The Gamecocks tried their best to petition the umpires and SEC to wait out the weather but SEC rules wouldn’t let them.
Per conference policy, suspended games on getaway days have to resume by 6 p.m. local time and there was a lightning strike at 5:32 p.m. CT that would have pushed the start time back to 6:02 p.m. CT at the earliest.
“We wanted to keep playing, clearly,” Kingston said. “We felt like there were two innings still to play and we weren’t allowed to play.”
Trying to rebound from being shutout on one hit Saturday, the Gamecocks scored seven runs, the most they’ve plated in SEC play this year on four hits, taking advantage of a few walks and Missouri miscues.
They’d put those up early, getting four runs in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk, balk and two-RBI single from Andrew Eyster. George Callil also homered in the second, his fourth of the year.
After that, they’d get one hit over the final five innings and strike out eight times.
“We scored seven runs but still didn’t get many hits we’d expect us to get,” Kingston said. “We just have to be better.”
The Gamecocks saw a three-run lead slip away in the middle innings with the Tigers scoring four unanswered runs off Brett Kerry. The bullpen struggled again Sunday, giving up seven runs on 12 hits the final 6.1 innings.
In his first appearance this weekend, Kerry had to be a little more extended in Sunday’s outing after TJ Shook left the game after just five batters with a back strain.
Kerry finished throwing 96 pitches over 4.1 innings, giving up four runs on six hits and striking out four. He also threw three wild pitches and had two balks.
“He couldn’t put guys away today. That’s why the back of the bullpen is probably best for him because he can go let it loose for three to six outs,” Kingston said of Kerry. “When he had to space it out and give us more outs, his stuff didn’t quite play as up.”
Player of the game: Andrew Eyster went 1-for-3 and drove in two more runs Sunday with a RBI single in the first inning. He finished the weekend going 3-for-9 with a double and four RBI.
Key moment: After retaking the lead, Bridges gave up back-to-back hits to tie the game and it was all Missouri from there out.
Up next: With final exams starting this week, the Gamecocks don't have a midweek game. They'll return to the diamond hosting No. 6 Vanderbilt for a three-game series starting Friday at 7 p.m.
“Our midweek games we’ve been playing well. We’ve been pitching well and the younger guys have had a chance to get some experience in those midweek game," Kingston said. "I wish we had a game on Tuesday so we could get out there and play. We don’t, so we have to get ready for next weekend.”