Gamecocks salvage split with LSU; SEC title still at stake

Trailing 3-0 entering the sixth inning, second ranked South Carolina stormed back with a three-run homer by Christian Walker and a RBI triple from Joey Pankake to take a one-run lead and Adam Matthews added a RBI double in the seventh inning as the Gamecocks held on for a 5-4 win over LSU on Friday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242 fans at Carolina Stadium.

The rubber game of the series is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised live on ESPNU.

Junior left-hander Tyler Webb hurled 1.2 scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win. He is 5-0 on the year. Junior right-hander Matt Price worked three innings and struck out seven batters while allowing one run on three hits to earn his ninth save of the season, his eighth save vs. a SEC team. LSU starter Aaron Nola suffered the loss and is now 6-4 on the year. He allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings of work.

Forrest Koumas started for the Gamecocks and came out very quickly striking out the first two batters he faced. However after walking two straight batters, he would surrender a run in the first on Tyler Moore’s two-out RBI base hit up the middle. He would get out of a bases loaded jam though as Adam Matthews made a great catch in deep right field up against the outfield fence to limit the Tigers to just one run.

LSU added single runs in the third and fifth inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Alex Edward set down a sacrifice squeeze to score a run. In the fifth inning, Moore drove in his second run of the night with a RBI single.

The momentum shifted for the Gamecocks beginning in the top of the sixth inning as the rally started on defense. With men on first and second and one out, LSU’s Mason Katz would fly out to left field and Tanner English showed off his arm gunning out the runner on second base and turning a double play. English promptly led off the bottom of the sixth with a single into left field. Evan Marzilli followed with a walk. With one out and runners on first and second, Walker drove the first pitch to deep left field almost to the scoreboard tying the game up at 3-3. Grayson Greiner would continue the strong offensive inning popping a two-out single over the second basemen’s head. Pankake would then step in and knock a triple to the gap in right-center scoring Greiner and giving Gamecocks a 4-3 lead.

Price entered the game with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning. LSU attempted to sacrifice but Alex Edward popped up to Greiner in foul territory for the first out. Price then set down the next two batters on strikeouts to end the threat. Carolina got an important insurance run in the eighth inning. With Evan Marzilli on second base, Adam Matthews extended the lead with two runs on a RBI double to left field.

LSU looked to mount a rally in the eighth inning with two outs and runners on the corners as Raph Rhymes connected with a two-out RBI bloop single over Vergason’s head at second base. But Price kept LSU at bay with a strikeout of Tyler Moore ending the eighth inning.

Price worked a perfect ninth inning to seal the victory for the Gamecocks. South Carolina won despite being out-hit 11-8 in the contest. Matthews tied a season-high in hits with a 3-for-4 day at the plate and he also stole two bases. Rhymes, Moore, Edward and Tyler Hanover all has two hits apiece to lead LSU.

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