South Carolina ran out of late-inning magic Tuesday night against the College of Charleston, falling 6-5 in 13 innings at Founders Park.
The Gamecocks (23-3) rallied from a two-run deficit in the ninth inning and a one-run deficit in the 12th, but John Jones grounded out with two outs and the tying run on second in the 13th as the Cougars outlasted No. 5 USC.
The result ends South Carolina’s 13-game winning streak and is the first home loss for the Gamecocks all year. USC opened the season 18-0 at Founders Park before losing Tuesday.
Charleston (18-7) was aided by three USC errors, and its first four runs of the game were scored with two outs.
“In the game of baseball, most of the time you get what you deserve, and I thought we got what we deserved tonight,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “I don’t mind getting my butt kicked. I just don’t like us not playing the way we’re capable of playing. ... We gave them two or three of their first four runs, and that’s not how we play.”
It appeared as though the Gamecocks would go quietly into the night as Charleston led 4-2 in the ninth inning with one out and no runners on when No. 9 hitter Marcus Mooney came to bat. The shortstop doubled to right and advanced to third on Gene Cone’s single to give USC runners on the corners and one out.
LT Tolbert then reached on an error, scoring Mooney. After Jones flied out to right, Alex Destino hit a ground-rule RBI double to tie the game at 4.
USC nearly won the game on Destino’s double as pinch-runner Danny Blair would have easily scored from first, but Blair had to stop at third because the ball bounced over the wall.
Jonah Bride grounded out with the bases loaded to send the game to extra innings.
Charleston regained the lead in the 12th inning when Morgan Phillips homered to left off USC closer Josh Reagan, but South Carolina tied the game in the bottom half of the inning as Clark Scolamiero scored on an error committed with two outs.
The Cougars finally scored the winning run in the 13th on a groundout back to the pitcher by Luke Manzo.
USC reliever Canaan Cropper fielded the ground ball cleanly but only glanced at Alex Pastorius, who was on third. The left fielder raced home and scored without a throw after Cropper went to first to get Manzo out.
“He panicked. He hasn’t been in a situation like that. He glanced at the runner at third instead of locking in on him,” Holbrook said. “It was an easy play, but there was a lot on the line and he hasn’t been in a situation like that before. He just didn’t handle it the proper way.”
Star of the game: Carter Love: The Charleston reliever pitched the 10th, 11th and 12th innings without allowing a hit. USC only scored an unearned run off Love.
Play of the game: Trailing 4-2, South Carolina had runners on first and third with one out in the ninth inning when LT Tolbert laced a ball down the right field line. It appeared that the ball hit chalk, but the first base umpire called it foul. Tolbert would have at least doubled, if not tripled, on the play, and USC would have tied the game at 4 with Jones and Destino due up and a runner in scoring position.
Stat of the game: 26: Dom Thompson-Williams’ streak of reaching base in every game this year was barely extended to 26. He finished 0-for-5 but was intentionally walked in the ninth inning.
USC came out flat: The Gamecocks had only one more hit (4) than errors (3) through eight innings as South Carolina played sloppy early on despite playing in front of a sellout crowd for only the second time this season.
Jones will be fine: South Carolina slugger John Jones went 0-for-6 with a strikeout and ended the game with a groundout to second, but he’s still the guy you want up to bat with the game on the line.
Reagan throws three innings: South Carolina’s closer threw 41 pitches and three innings two days before a critical weekend series at Vanderbilt. Holbrook wanted the lefty to throw but admitted he wanted to throw him 30 pitches instead of 40.
What: South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt, Game 1
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, March 31
Where: Nashville, Tenn.
Probable pitchers: USC – Clarke Schmidt (So. RHP); Vanderbilt – Jordan Sheffield (So. RHP)
Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area