Matt Price was in an unfamiliar position Sunday, and because of it so is the South Carolina baseball team.
Price, the Gamecocks’ closer, gave up a run in the ninth inning and took the loss in a 7-6 defeat to Mississippi at Oxford-University Stadium. That result, coupled with Vanderbilt’s victory against Kentucky, dropped USC into second place in the SEC East, tied with Florida and a game behind the Commodores.
Pitching his third inning, Price began the ninth by walking Matt Tracy. Pinch hitter Gabe Woods struck out, then Miles Hamblin singled to right to send Tracy to third. Preston Overbey hit Price’s first pitch to deep center for the winning sacrifice fly.
“It was a slider that was supposed to be away, but I left it just a little bit over the plate,” Price said. “He (Overbey) had a good swing on it. He is a good hitter and just went with it.”
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USC (37-10, 18-6 SEC) lost a series for the first time since dropping two of three against Florida to conclude the 2010 regular season.
“It doesn’t feel real good right now because we lost today, but our guys have battled their rear ends off, and I’m extremely proud of them,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “You don’t like to lose a series, but it is the first one we’ve lost this year, so I can’t be too upset with my guys.”
USC overcame a 3-0 deficit with two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth. Jake Williams had a RBI triple in the fourth, and Brady Thomas had a two-run triple in the fifth.
“It shows why they are so good,” Mississippi coach Mike Bianco said of USC’s comeback. “It’s amazing how the good teams get that timely hit. Each time they had opportunities to score, they got the hit.”
Matt Snyder’s two-run homer into the Ole Miss bullpen tied the game at 5 in the fifth inning, and Alex Yarbrough put the Rebels (27-21, 11-13) back ahead with a run-scoring double in the sixth.
USC took advantage of a two-out fielding error by Rebels shortstop Blake Newalu in the seventh to tie the game at 6.Tanner’s primary concern following the game was the lack of control displayed by his pitchers.. Of the nine hitters USC walked, three scored — including two that led off innings.
“Dangerous,” Tanner said. “Leadoff walks will come back to haunt you. We got some runs, too, but that seemed to be the difference today.”
Price allowed one run on two hits and two walks in three innings.
Ole Miss closer Jake Morgan earned the win, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
USC returns to action when it hosts Presbyterian at 7 p.m. Tuesday.