South Carolina struggled offensively and watched as the bullpen again faltered in a 5-4, 11-inning loss to Wofford on Wednesday night.
The loss was the Gamecocks’ first at home this season and fourth setback in the past five games. It was the first home midweek loss by South Carolina since Clemson won at Carolina Stadium on April 22, 2009.
Konstantine Diamaduros drove home the winning run with a one-out RBI single in the 11th inning.
The Terriers (9-12) rallied from two runs down to force extra innings. Mac Doyle hit his second 2-run home run of the game in the eighth inning off of reliever Hunter Privette to tie the score at 4. Doyle connected in the sixth inning against USC starter Adam Westmoreland.
Top-ranked Florida comes to Columbia for a three-game series beginning tonight.
“We don’t feel too good right now,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “We lost the Kentucky series and come back with a win (against Furman Tuesday) but we lost tonight. If we can play well the next three days, it will certainly get us going a little bit. But it’s a challenge playing the No. 1 team in the country.”
Adam Westmoreland was solid in his five innings of work. The junior left-hander allowed five hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He walked Diamaduros to lead off the sixth inning before Doyle connected for his first home run.
But the Gamecocks’ (16-5) bullpen faltered. The five relievers combined to walk seven batters. Nolan Belcher was able to pitch out of an one-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning but USC walked the leadoff batter in each of the final three innings. The Terriers finally made the Gamecocks pay when Diamaduros hit a liner to left field that T.J. Costen almost made a diving catch on.
“You put the leadoff guy on and you are asking for trouble most of the time,” Tanner said. “That ended up being a tough part of the night for us. We gave some free passes and they didn’t and it came down to a big hit.”
Wofford had lost four in a row and was coming off being swept by the College of Charleston this past weekend.
“It’s huge,” Diamaduros said. “We knew we could win. We knew we could step on the field and play with those guys. This is the first year we had the mentality where we weren’t timid when we came out here. I think we thought we had control the entire game, even up until the end.”
Evan Beal took the loss to fall to 1-2. The freshman pitched two innings but he walked Matthew Kaskow to lead off the 11th to set the stage for the winning rally.
South Carolina’s offense didn’t have a hit and only two base runners after the sixth inning.
“We have to flush it. No point dwelling on losses,” USC’s Christian Walker said. “We have to turn it around and get some momentum going our way.”
South Carolina got a sacrifice fly by Joey Pankake in the third inning to take a 1-0 lead. Walker hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to push the lead to 3-0 before Doyle hit his first home run in the sixth. Dante Rosenberg drove home the Gamecocks’ final run with RBI single in the sixth inning.
Wofford reliever Eric Eck, the Terriers’ closer, earned the victory with 32/3 innings of hitless relief. He struck out six, including the first five he faced, and walked one. He improved to 3-1.
“Eck came out of the bullpen and did a super job,” Tanner said. “Wofford did a great job. Doyle kept them where they needed to be and Eck kept us from getting anything else.”
Michael Roth will take the mound for USC and Hudson Randall will pitch for Florida in tonight’s game, which begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.