Max Shrock stood on third base and Connor Bright stood on second base, both on gifts from the Missouri infield. But when two quick outs followed, it appeared the Tigers could swing momentum into their favor.
But TJ Costen pushed a 1-2 pitch into left field, plating both runs and lifting No. 5 South Carolina to a 4-1 victory in Missouri’s SEC debut in front of a Taylor Stadium regular-season-record 3,145 fans.
With inclement weather predicted for Sunday, the teams will complete the series with a doubleheader Saturday. Game 1 is slated to start at 3 p.m.
The Tigers’ two fifth-inning errors helped, but South Carolina drove in three runs with two outs.
“It was a typical SEC baseball game,” said coach Chad Holbrook, whose Gamecocks improved to 16-2 with their ninth-consecutive win. “We got a big hit with runners in scoring position, and they didn’t.”
Facing sophomore right-hander Evan Beal, Missouri had pieced together threats in the first and fourth innings but came up empty.
Evan Beal, making his second start in place of injured ace Jordan Montgomery, pitched 61/3 innings, giving up one run on eight hits. Beal struck a career-high 10, the most by a Gamecocks’ pitcher this season.
“I was just trying to go out there and get ahead on my first pitch,” Beal said. “I feel like I did a good job with damage control. I was able to shut it down, get some ground balls.”
Tyler Webb pitched 11/3 shutout innings for his sixth save.
Missouri left-handed starter Rob Zastryzny pitched seven innings, allowing four runs — two earned — on seven hits. He struck out a season-high-tying 10 batters. It is the second consecutive game Zastryzny struck out 10 hitters.
Grayson Greiner hit his first home run of the season in the third inning and scored on Joey Pankake’s two-out single in the fifth.
“It was a big win for us against a really good pitcher,” Holbrook said. “(Zastryzny) was terrific, and Evan matched him pitch for pitch.”
After Logan Pearson got the Tigers (5-8, 0-1) on the board in the bottom of the fifth, a pair of Missouri errors opened the door for the Gamecocks.
First baseman Josh Lester failed to flag down a head-high chopper to leadoff hitter Schrock. After he advanced on a passed ball, Bright hit a line drive at second baseman Kendall Keaton, who dropped it to put runners on the corners. Zastryzny got a strikeout and a popup, but Costen ripped a single into left to bring both runners home.
“It’s my job to get out of it,” Zastryzny said, dismissing the errors, which have been a problem all season. “If I make a better pitch, I get out of the inning with no runs.”
|Saiko lf||3||0||1||0||Keeton 2b||5||1||3||0|
|Carson cf||0||0||0||0||Pearson cf||5||0||2||1|
|Vrgson 3b||3||0||0||0||Opel rf||4||0||1||0|
|Pnkake ss||5||0||1||1||Kelly c||4||0||1||0|
|Dntzler 1b||5||0||1||0||Munson lf||4||0||1||0|
|Schrock 2b||4||1||0||0||Lester 1b||3||0||0||0|
|Bright lf||4||1||0||0||Smrfld dh||3||0||1||0|
|English cf||0||0||0||0||Segovia 3b||3||0||0||0|
|Iskndrn dh||3||0||0||0||Everett ss||3||0||0||0|
|Celek ph||1||0||0||0||McGrw ph||1||0||0||0|
|Zastryzny L, 1-3||7||7||4||2||2||10|