Chad Holbrook looked back at Wednesday night’s 6-5 loss to Furman at Fluor Field, and all he could see were the mistakes.
South Carolina made a pair of base-running blunders on balls hit off the Green Monster in the seventh inning that cost the Gamecocks a run, and first baseman LB Dantzler made an error to open the eighth inning that turned into the game-winning run when Furman pinch-hitter Griffin Davis drilled an RBI double.
“They were the more aggressive team,” Holbrook said. “They swung the bats better than we did, they ran the bases better than we did, and they played better than we did. They deserved to win the game.”
For the second time in three seasons at Fluor Field, the Paladins (17-11) sent the Gamecocks back to Columbia a loser. Ben Carlson (3-1) picked up the win in relief for Furman, and Matt Solter pitched the ninth inning for his sixth save despite a pair of walks.
The No. 15 Gamecocks (23-7, 5-4 SEC) will travel to Tennessee (13-14, 3-6 SEC) for a weekend conference series. South Carolina took a 5-4 lead with a three-run rally in the seventh inning, with Max Schrock’s RBI single and Brison Celek’s two-run double the two big blows.
Schrock probably should have scored on Celek’s double off the Green Monster, but he couldn’t when Connor Bright slowed up too much in front of him. The same thing happened on Bright’s earlier ball off the wall, which became a single when the runners didn’t take off and advance two bases once it was clear that it would sail over the left-fielder’s head.
“I’ve got to coach them better than that. That’s two elementary plays that we didn’t execute, and it cost us the game. I have to take responsibility on that,” Holbrook said.
He also was not happy with the eighth-inning misplay by Dantzler, who slipped down trying to field Alex Abrams’ slow roller and couldn’t make the play on the throw to first.
“We’ve got to be able to field a ground ball. There’s no bad hop,” Holbrook said. “It’s a routine ground ball. It’s a gimme out. We can’t field that and lose the game.”
Dantzler wasn’t very happy either.
“We definitely didn’t play our best. I didn’t play my best,” Dantzler said. “I slipped and started to toss it, and he beat it. It wasn’t pretty. It sucks to let everybody down like that. There were some big mistakes on our part tonight.”
The game-winner then scored on the Davis double to center off reliever Jack Wynkoop (4-1).
USC’s 5-4 lead didn’t last long, as Furman’s Taylor Johnson blasted a solo homer over the Green Monster in the bottom of the inning off Joel Seddon to tie the game at 5-5. Johnson also had a two-run single in the third inning to give Furman its first lead of the night at 2-1. Chris Ohmstede also hit a home run – his seventh of the season – over the Green Monster in the fourth inning for a 3-1 lead, which ended the night for USC starter Forrest Koumas.
Celek was frustrated the Gamecocks couldn’t make their seventh-inning rally stand up.
“I thought we were, but it just didn’t happen,” Celek said. “We put together a fight, but it was too little, too late. They made some good swings and hit the ball hard. They’re a good team.”
Furman coach Ron Smith, whose teams also defeated USC one time each in the Gamecocks’ 2010 and 2011 national championship seasons, liked the way this team responded with its own comeback.
“It’s a good win for us,” Smith said. “We feel like we’re a pretty good offensive club.”
Dantzler believes the Gamecocks can rebound from having their five-game winning streak snapped.
“It’s tough, but we’ll bounce back and have a day off and be ready to roll Friday,” he said.
Note: Outfielder T.J. Costen had his left shoulder pop out of place in the seventh inning and left the game. He will have an MRI on Thursday and not make the trip to Tennessee. Holbrook hopes he will be able to return next week.