USC Gamecocks Baseball

South Carolina rally falls short vs. Mississippi State

Chad Holbrook on when close losses become a concern 'It's past that.'

Gamecocks trail by 1 entering 9th, fall to 3-6 in last 9 games
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Gamecocks trail by 1 entering 9th, fall to 3-6 in last 9 games

South Carolina and Mississippi State entered Friday night’s game heading in opposite directions.

That trend continued, as did USC’s trend of losing close games, as the Bulldogs topped the Gamecocks 7-4 in the series opener at Founders Park.

Mississippi State took advantage of three USC errors to score five unearned runs and win its ninth SEC game in 10 tries. USC is 3-6 in its past nine games.

“You’ve got to make plays. I tell the guys all the time, ‘if you make our opponents earn their runs, we’re going to win a lot of games,’ ” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said. “You’ve got to play defense in this league, and we didn’t play good enough defense.”

The loss spoiled another strong outing by USC ace Clarke Schmidt (4-1), who retired the final 19 batters he faced and struck out 11 in eight innings.

Schmidt surrendered five runs in the first two innings, but only two were earned.

No. 13 Mississippi State (23-13, 9-4) entered with the No. 2 offense in the SEC but didn’t get a runner on base after the second inning until Josh Reagan entered in the ninth.

“He was special from the third inning on. He was dynamite,” Holbrook said of Schmidt.

Mississippi State’s big second inning was aided by an LT Tolbert error with one out. The Bulldogs scored four runs in the inning, with only one being earned.

“The four-run inning they had, it’s not a four-run inning if we make a play,” Holbrook said. “Right now, when we don’t make a play, the other team capitalizes on it.”

With USC (21-12, 7-6) trailing 5-4 entering the ninth, Reagan surrendered a leadoff double but should have gotten out of the inning without damage.

Josh Lovelady followed with a sac bunt and Reagan tried to get the lead runner at third but his throw was dropped by Jonah Bride.

Reagan then struck out the next two batters he faced before left fielder Alex Destino dropped a ball that allowed two runs to score and pushed the lead to 7-4.

“That’s a play I need to make. If we go to the bottom of the ninth down one that’s a lot different than down three,” Destino said. “That’s unacceptable on my part. Reagan made phenomenal pitches that inning. … I just dropped the ball. No excuses.”

Destino did lead the 17th-ranked Gamecocks at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and scored a run. Chris Cullen added a pair of hits and also scored a run.

USC finished with nine hits, but leadoff hitter TJ Hopkins went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, while nine-hole hitter Matt Williams was 0-for-3 and has gotten only one hit in his past 32 at bats.

Game 2 will be played on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Founders Park.

Mississppi St.

ab

r

h

rbi

bb

k

Mangum cf

5

0

2

0

0

0

Rooker 1b

4

1

1

1

0

2

Gridley ss

4

0

1

2

0

1

Brown lf

4

0

0

0

0

2

MacNamee dh

4

2

2

0

0

1

Lovelady c

3

1

0

0

0

0

Poole rf

3

1

0

0

1

2

Alexander 3b

4

1

0

0

0

3

Stovall 2b

4

1

1

2

0

2

TOTALS

35

7

7

5

1

13

South Carolina

ab

r

h

rbi

bb

k

Hopkins cf

5

0

0

0

0

4

Bride 3b

4

0

1

1

0

1

Cortes dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

Cullen c

4

1

2

0

0

2

Destino lf

4

1

3

0

0

0

Olson rf

4

1

1

1

0

0

Tolbert 2b

4

1

1

1

0

0

Stokes ss

4

0

1

0

0

2

Williams 1b

3

0

0

0

1

1

TOTALS

36

4

9

3

1

11

Miss. St.

140

000

002

7

USC

000

000

400

4

E — Gridley, Alexander, Bride, Destino, Tolbert. LOB — MSU 2; S. Carolina 5. 2B — MacNamee, Bride, Destino. HR — Rooker. SH — Lovelady.

Vandy

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Pilkington, W 3-3

6

6

4

2

1

7

Self

2 1/3

3

0

0

0

3

Price, S 12

 2/3

0

0

0

0

1

USC

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Schmidt, L 4-1

8

5

5

2

1

11

Reagan

1

2

2

0

0

2

WP — Pilkington. Umpires — HP: Mark Chapman; 1B: Perry Costello; 2B: Jacob Asher; 3B: Matthew Wilbanks. T — 3:09. A — 7,281.

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