Gamecocks lose to LSU in 10-inning fight for SEC title

In a battle for the SEC championship, No. 2 South Carolina and ninth ranked LSU fought back and forth with the Tigers scoring twice in the 10th inning with two-out RBI singles from pinch hitter Jackson Slaid and first baseman Mason Katz and despite a rally from the Gamecocks in the bottom half with a sacrifice fly by Christian Walker, the Tigers held on for a 3-2 victory to clinch the weekend series against the Gamecocks.

LSU is now 42-14 and 19-11 in the SEC with South Carolina at 39-15 and finishing 18-11 in league play, one half game behind the Tigers for first place. South Carolina now awaits the results of Saturday’s game between Kentucky and Mississippi State for seeding purposes for next week’s SEC Tournament. If Mississippi State wins, the Gamecocks are the two seed. If Kentucky wins the Gamecocks are the three seed. The top two seeds receive byes into Wednesday with the other eight squads beginning competition on Tuesday.

LSU reliever Chris Cotton earned the win in relief with three hitless innings with one walk and four strikeouts. He is now 6-0 on the year. Right-hander Nick Goody picked up his 10th save of the season allowing one run on two hits in an inning of work. South Carolina freshman right-hander Evan Beal suffered the loss and is now 3-4 on the year. He allowed two runs in 2.2 innings with no hits allowed, two walks and one strikeout.

LSU grabbed an early 1-0 lead against the Gamecocks in the first inning when Arby Fields started things off with a double off the right field fence followed by a passed ball that allowed him to advance to third. Mason Katz then stepped up to the plate and knocked him in with a RBI groundout for an unearned run.

The game remained that way until the bottom of the third inning when Evan Marzilli plated a run to even the score 1-1. Marzilli crushed a 2-2 pitch to left-center for a triple and was brought in on a sacrifice fly to right by Adam Matthews. The triple was Marzilli’s third of the season, which ties him with Tanner English for the team-high. The Gamecocks kept the momentum going with a double off the right field wall by Walker, but were unable to score him.

Both starting pitchers competed well on Saturday afternoon. Junior right-hander Colby Holmes allowed just one run, unearned, on four hits in 6.2 innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Eades for LSU matched him with 5.1 innings allowing one run on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

In the top of the eighth the Tigers threatened again with runners on the corners after Tyler Hanover led off with a double that landed just inside the right field chalk and JaCoby Jones drew a walk. Hanover advanced on a flyout, but the Gamecocks held the game in check with a strikeout from Beal and a flyout.

LSU finally made their move in the 10th as Jordy Snikeris drew a leadoff walk from and was moved over on a sacrifice bunt from Tyler Hanover. JaCoby Jones hit a hard line drive to second, but Chase Vergason was able to hang on to it and get the second out for Carolina. Austin Nola was intentionally walked, which put LSU runners on first and second with pinch hitter Jackson Slaid at the plate and Tyler Webb pitching. Slaid worked the count full and hit a RBI single to shallow right field giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Katz followed that with an additional RBI single up the middle to extend the LSU lead to 3-1 in the top of the tenth.

The Gamecocks answered back as Marzilli led off with a double to start off the bottom half followed by a base hit to right field from Matthews that put runners on the corners with no outs. Marzilli scored off Walker’s sacrifice fly to center to pull the Gamecocks within one run. Goody settled in though to retire the next two batters to seal the win for LSU as Dantzler flied out to right and Greiner popped up to end the game.

South Carolina finished with nine hits while LSU had seven for the contest. Marzilli and Matthews had two hits apiece to lead Carolina. Katz was 2-for-5 with two RBI for the Tigers.

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