Three batches of three runs each defined Thursday's contest between South Carolina baseball and Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
In the end, the Aggies got two of those batches, rallying to top the Gamecocks 6-3 in the final regular season series opener for both teams. USC (30-22, 15-13 SEC) must now win the final two games of the series to keep its run of SEC series wins, currently at four, alive.
Carolina freshman starter Logan Chapman stumbled out of the gate Thursday, giving up a two-run home run in the first inning to A&M sophomore shortstop Braden Shewmake, then a solo shot to freshman catcher Aaron Walters in the second.
The Gamecocks gradually chipped their way back into the game, however. In the third inning, senior first baseman Matt Williams reached on an infield single, made it to second on a passed ball and scored on an RBI single up the middle from freshman left fielder Noah Campbell.
In the fourth, a monster solo blast to left field from senior designated hitter Madison Stokes made it 3-2. In the fifth, sophomore outfielder Carlos Cortes tied things up with a homer of his own to right field.
In the bottom of the sixth, though, Chapman ran into trouble again. Shewmake singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, and then scored on a bouncing ball back to Chapman that deflected off his glove and took an odd hop as senior second baseman Justin Row charged it, getting by him and allowing Shewmake to race home.
"He did enough to win. Made a couple mistakes knocking balls down that we had guys behind him, but he pitched his butt off tonight in a very hostile environment," coach Mark Kingston told John Whittle of The Big Spur about Chapman's performance.
The Aggies added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth off relievers Eddy Demurias and TJ Shook with a leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt, an RBI single, a walk and another RBI single to make it 6-3 and complete A&M's streak of three unanswered runs.
"It got away from us a little bit at the end, but our guys played so hard tonight, so we're ready for tomorrow," Kingston said.
Star of the game: Madison Stokes, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and one of the longest home runs by any Gamecock this season with a mammoth blast that brought his team within one run.
Play of the game: The infield single in the sixth inning from freshman Will Frizzell was just an inch or two from being an easy comebacker to Logan Chapman, and it was just another inch or two beyond the grasp of Justin Row at second base. Those few inches were enough to score the eventual game-winning run.
Stat of the game: USC was a miserable 1-17 with runners on base, resulting in eight batters left on base.
Who: South Carolina (30-22, 15-13 SEC) vs. Texas A&M (36-17, 13-15 SEC)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 18
Where: Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, College Station, Texas
Watch: Streaming online on SEC Network Plus via WatchESPN
Listen: 107.5 FM
Probable pitchers: South Carolina — Jr. RHP Adam Hill (6-5, 4.08 ERA); Texas A&M — So. LHP John Doxakis (6-4, 3.15 ERA)