USC Gamecocks Baseball

South Carolina can’t shake offensive funk, drops series to Alabama

South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Mark Kingston talks with South Carolina Gamecocks outfielder Brady Allen (3) and South Carolina Gamecocks outfielder TJ Hopkins (5) against the Valporaiso Crusaders.
South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Mark Kingston talks with South Carolina Gamecocks outfielder Brady Allen (3) and South Carolina Gamecocks outfielder TJ Hopkins (5) against the Valporaiso Crusaders. Jeff@JeffBlakePhoto.com

South Carolina baseball’s disastrous start to SEC play continued Friday night, as the Gamecocks fell 4-1 to Alabama to drop both games of a doubleheader.

The defeat, combined with a Game 1 shutout earlier in the day, handed USC (18-13, 2-9 SEC) its fourth consecutive series loss to start conference play, the first time Carolina has done that since it joined the SEC in 1992.

After giving up nine runs in the first three innings of the Game 1 loss, South Carolina entered the nightcap needing a strong start from junior pitcher Reid Morgan, who has established himself as the team’s most consistent option in the rotation this year.

Morgan was relatively solid once again, but it didn’t matter — the Gamecocks’ offense, which has been scuffling throughout league play, was unable to break out after a sluggish Game 1. In six innings against Alabama starter Brock Love, USC managed just two hits and two walks.

Alabama, meanwhile, seized the lead in the fourth, ripping three consecutive singles to lead off the inning and score one run. A stolen base and single scored another, and a fielder’s choice completed the scoring outburst.

South Carolina finally cracked the scoreboard after 15 scoreless innings of play with a home run from senior third baseman Jacob Olson to lead off the seventh inning. It was Olson’s 12th home run of the season, tying him for the lead in the SEC.

The Tide, however, came right back to restore the three-run advantage. After Morgan gave up a single and two steals and hit a batter, he was pulled in favor of freshman Wesley Sweatt, who gave up a deep single to left field that plated one run.

The Gamecocks threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs with a hit batsman and two walks, but Olson struck out to end the threat.

Next: South Carolina and Alabama finish their series Saturday at 2 p.m. The contest will be streamed online on SEC Network Plus via WatchESPN.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.
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