LSU drops series with shutout defeat

No. 2 LSU suffered its first series loss of the season with a 4-0 defeat on Sunday to No. 15 South Carolina. The Tigers' offense failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities for the second consecutive night as LSU lost back-to-back games for the first time in 2013.

No. 2 LSU dropped its first series of the season with a 4-0 loss to No. 15 South Carolina on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium.

The defeat marked the first time the Tigers lost back-to-back games since the Super Regional last season, and it was the first time LSU had been shutout since a 7-0 loss against Florida on Easter weekend in 2012.

The game Sunday followed a similar script to LSU's 4-2 defeat on Saturday. The Gamecocks jumped ahead early behind some defensive miscues by the Tigers, and the LSU offense failed to capitalize on opportunities to produce runs.

"We played bad all weekend," Mason Katz said. "There's nothing to take away from them. They're a really good team. They've been to the [College World Series] three straight times and won it twice. They played better than we did this weekend. They deserved to beat us. But we didn't play good. We're a much better team than that."

A day after LSU produced just two runs on 14 hits, the Tigers only mustered six on Sunday without recording multiple hits in any inning. LSU failed to get a runner past second base, stranding one there three times on Sunday.

"When it comes down to it, on a given day, it's about who makes the pitches, who makes the plays and who gets the big hits," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "They did that better than we did. Yesterday, we had chances and we couldn't do it…Today, we dug ourselves a hole."

LSU starter Kurt McCune — making his first appearance in the weekend rotation this season — fell behind early, surrendering two runs on four hits in the first inning. After a quick pop out from USC leadoff man Graham Saiko, RF Jared Foster misplayed a liner by Chase Vergason, failing to come up with a diving catch that resulted in a triple.

A grounder to third made two outs in that inning, but McCune allowed three consecutive hits and a pair of runs.

McCune would only last 1 1/3 more innings after he allowed another run to score in the second behind a walk, single and sacrifice fly.

"He didn't get his curveball over and he didn't get the ball down in the zone," Mainieri said. "That's the stuff that he's been doing, and I thought he would do today. But he just left ball up and they put the bat on it."

Though LSU's offense didn't mount much of a threat against the USC pitching staff, the Tigers did stay within shouting distance thanks in large part to a solid outing by reliever Brent Bonvillain. He entered in the fourth inning, and allowed just two hits with one walk in four innings of work.

The only run South Carolina produced off the LSU bullpen came in the ninth with a walk, error and two sacrifices off Joey Bourgeois and Chris Cotton.

"It's a team effort," Bonvillain said. "Even though I pitched well, I really wish we would have come up with the win. I'm just going to go out there every day doing the same thing I do and give 110 percent."

LSU didn't have many opportunities to score, as USC freshman starter Jack Wynkoop tossed seven scoreless innings with just five hits.

"He was mixing up pitches, throwing strikes," Katz said. "We had some feeble swings. We had bad swings when we were ahead in the count a few times."

The Tigers' best scoring chances came in the seventh and eighth innings. Katz led off the seventh with a double to left, but consecutive outs by Raph Rhymes, Christian Ibarra and Ty Ross stranded him at second.

In the next inning, Alex Bregman came to bat with two outs and runners on first and second facing a three-run deficit. Bregman found himself in a similar situation on Saturday, going up against USC closer Tyler Webb with a chance to drive in runs in the ninth, but he failed to deliver then, popping out to center.

The result on Sunday was identical as Bregman again flied out to CF Tanner English, ending the threat. LSU went down in order in the ninth to cap off its second straight defeat.

"We need to be determined to win," Katz said. "We need to get fired up to play. We have to come every day and be ready to go and have that urge to win."

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