Sam Dyson said this past week was one of the longest of his so-far stellar career at South Carolina.
The redshirt sophomore had his worst outing a week ago in the SEC opener at Mississippi State, but he erased away any lingering bad feelings by handcuffing No. 5 LSU in a 7-3 victory Friday night in the first SEC game at Carolina Stadium.
The Tampa, Fla., native allowed one run on two hits in seven innings. He didn’t have his best command — he had six walks — but he added five strikeouts in his 120-pitch performance and never let LSU string together hits.
It was a stark contrast to when he allowed eight runs — seven earned — on nine hits in 4 Ð innings last weekend against the Bulldogs.
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On Friday, he allowed a base runner in every inning but the fourth but held the hot-hitting Tigers to two harmless singles in the third and fifth innings. He ended his night with pitches that reached 99 and 98 mph on the scoreboard radar gun.
The biggest trouble came when the right-hander worked himself into a jam in the third inning but got out of it with limited damage.
With one out, the Tigers loaded the bases on a single by D.J. LeMahieu and back-to-back walks to Jared Mitchell and Blake Dean.
Sean Ochinko plated the first run with a sacrifice fly to center. Dyson then struck out Ryan Schimpf looking to end the threat.
Other than that threat, the Tigers (15-5, 2-2) had only two other runners as far as second base until the ninth.
Alex Farotto pitched the final two innings to earn his fourth save of the season. He allowed LSU to get the tying run to the plate in the ninth but induced a fly out to end the game.
Anthony Ranaudo nearly matched Dyson pitch-for-pitch, but the Gamecocks (14-4, 2-2) turned to the long ball on a night the wind was blowing in.
After LSU jumped to the lead in the third, Jackie Bradley, Jr. answered right back for the Gamecocks. His third home run of the season, a one-out blast that landed in the home team bullpen, tied the score at 1.
It stayed that way until Bobby Haney hit his first career home run to lead off the fifth. He turned on the first pitch of the inning and it landed on the grassy hill beyond the right field fence.
The only other hit Ranaudo (2-1) allowed was a single to Jeffery Jones.
The Gamecocks continued their long ball show against the Tigers’ bullpen in the eighth when they added a couple insurance runs. Whit Merrifield connected off reliever Paul Bertuccini for his fourth home run, a two-run shot that landed in the left-field bleachers to push the lead to 4-1.
Andrew Crisp then capped the evening with his fourth home run, a three-run blast into the visitor’s bullpen in left.
Tanner was hard pressed to explain that four of his team’s six hits were home runs on a cool crisp night.