Gamecocks catch fire late to down Mississippi State

No. 9  South Carolina rallied from three runs down with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning with pinch hitter Sean Sullivan tying the game with a two-out triple and scoring the winning run on a wild pitch on the way to a 7-6 victory over Mississippi State in the series opener on Friday night in front of 8,105 fans at Carolina Stadium.

The Gamecocks are now 25-10 and 6-7 in the SEC while Mississippi State drops to 21-13 and 5-8 in league play. Game two of the series is set for Saturday at 4 p.m.

With two outs and the Gamecocks behind 6-3 to MSU in the bottom of the eighth, the rally began as Grayson Greiner drove a solo home run to left field, his fourth home run of the year. Trailing by two runs, Adam Matthews followed with a base hit up the middle. That ended the night for Mississippi State starter Chris Stratton as the Bulldogs elected to go to the bullpen for closer Caleb Reed.

The hit parade continued as Brison Celek doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third base setting the stage for Sullivan. Down 0-2 in the count, Sullivan lifted a fly ball into right field that got out of the grasp of a diving Brent Brownlee, scoring both runners and putting Sullivan on third base. Sullivan then scampered home with the winning run as a wild pitch on a strikeout by Reed against Tanner English allowed Sullivan to score and English to reach first base. With a 7-6 lead, the Gamecocks brought on right-hander Matt Price, who hurled a perfect ninth inning for a save and preserving the one-run victory.

Freshman right-hander Evan Beal picked up the win in relief and is now 2-3 on the year. He faced one batter in the top of the eighth. Price’s one-inning stint earned him for his second save of the year. Reed allowed two runs on two hits in 0.1 innings to suffer the loss. He is now 0-5 on the year.

South Carolina had 11 hits with Mississippi State ending the evening with seven. Greiner was 2-for-4 to lead the Gamecocks. 10 different players for South Carolina had at least one hit. C.T. Bradford went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI to lead the Bulldogs.

The Gamecocks held the early lead scoring three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Chase Vergason led off with a single followed by a bunt for a base hit courtesy of English. With one out, Evan Marzilli singled to left field to load the bases. A four-pitch walk for Christian Walker scored Vergason and LB Dantzler added a two-run single to right field to give the Gamecocks a three-run cushion.

South Carolina starter Michael Roth went 4.1 innings without allowing a hit until Bradford connected with a one-out home run to right field in the top of the fifth. MSU exploded for four runs in the top of the sixth inning on the back of three extra base hits. Wes Rea knocked a one-out home run to left-center to cut the Gamecocks lead to one. After Porter reached base on a hit by pitch, Renfroe doubled and both runners would score after Bradford tripled off the wall in right field. Brownlee would drive in Bradford with a RBI groundout. In the top of the seventh Mississippi extended their lead to 6-3 after a one-out double to center field by Norris scored Frazier.

Roth allowed five runs on five hits in 5.1 innings with three walks and two strikeouts. MSU starter Chris Stratton allowed five runs on nine hits in 7.2 innings with two walks and 11 strikeouts.

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