"The whole key was one walk. We don't get anybody on base and they don't make any errors. You have to put some hits back to back and we just weren't able to do it."
Marchbanks (9-2), who was honored as the SEC Pitcher of the Week last week, worked the final three innings of the resumed game. State (27-9-1, 10-6) trailed 2-0 when rain halted play after six innings Friday night. The Bulldogs knotted the score quickly off Marchbanks in the seventh when J. B. Tucker doubled and Matthew Brinson launched a two-run home run over the right field fence.
"In the first game, we got some key hits and were back in the ballgame and that was a very important ballgame to win," said Polk about his club's fourth straight one-run loss to South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.
USC regained the lead in its half of the inning with a walk issued by relief pitcher Brian Owens, a two-out fielding error by shortstop Matthew Maniscalco, and, with Jonathan Papelbon on in relief, a pinch-hit single by Demetric Smith.
"We haven't given up too many unearned runs," said Polk of the error by Maniscalco that allowed the inning to continue. "The ball wasn't hit very hard and it just didn't stick in his glove. He makes that play all the time."
Maniscalco led off the eighth inning with his sixth home run of the season, knotting the score at 3-3. But USC again answered with a run on doubles by Jon Coutlangus and Justin Harris. Harris' bloop two-bagger just inside the left field foul line extended his current hitting streak to 16 games. Papelbon (5-1), who pitched the final 1-2/3 innings, allowed three hits and a run, only his second earned run allowed this season.
MSU's Alan Johnson (3-2) was matched with Marchbanks in the second game, and the two battled to a scoreless deadlock through the first three frames.
"Alan Johnson pitched very effectively at times," said Polk of his sophomore starter.
In the fourth MSU got back-to-back singles from Brad Corley and Craig Tatum and claimed a 1-0 lead with J.B. Tucker's sacrifice fly to right.
The lead didn't last long, however. South Carolina opened its half of the inning with a double to left and a Brian Buscher home run to right. Buscher's ninth roundtripper of the year was all the offense USC needed.
"Buscher hits the two-run home run and that's the ballgame," said Polk of the game-winner. "This is a home run ballpark. Characteristically, South Carolina is a home run hitting team."
The Gamecocks loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single in the fifth. Freshman righty Jamie Gant replaced Johnson and retired Landon Powell on a line drive to left to end that USC threat. He finished the game for State with 3-1/3 innings of perfect relief work.
"Jamie Gant came in and competed well," said Polk of his redshirt freshman righthander.
After Tucker's sacrifice fly, Marchbanks retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced before giving way to Chris Hernandez in the eighth. Hernandez got Maniscalco to ground out to end the eighth and in the ninth gave up a pinch-hit single to Robby Goodson before closing out the game and earning his first save of the year.
"We 13 hits in two games and they got 17," said Polk. "We pitched well enough to win two ballgames."
The one-run losses were the fourth and fifth straight for MSU at Sarge Frye Field.
State seeks to end a four-game SEC losing skid in Sunday's 12:30 p.m. (CDT) series finale at South Carolina. Sophomore lefty Todd Nicholas (3-1, 2.95) will a start for MSU, while USC is undecided on its Sunday starter.
Polk expects USC's starter will be either Conor Lalor (5-0, 2.73) or Matt Campbell (1-3, 5.90).
"Campbell was effective last year. I think he pitched pretty well in the College World Series, but he hasn't been throwing a lot of strikes. I think it will be Lolar or Campbell."
SOUTH CAROLINA 4, MSU 3
MSU 000 000 210 --- 3-7-2
USC 110 000 11x --- 4-11-0
WP --- David Marchbanks (8-2). LP --- Jonathan Papelbon (5-1). HR --- Matthew Maniscalco (6), Matthew Brinson (6). T --- 2:27. ATT --- 1,872.
Paul Maholm, Brian Owens (7), Jonathan Papelbon 97) nd Craid Tatum. Steven Bondurant, David Marchbanks (7) and Landon Powell.
SOUTH CAROLINA 2, MSU 1
MSU 000 010 000 --- 1-6-0
USC 000 020 000 --- 2-6-0
WP --- David Marchbanks (9-2). LP --- Alan Johnson (3-2). SV --- Chris Hernandez (1). HR --- Brian Buscher (9). T --- 2:00. ATT --- 3,806.
Alan Johnson, Jamie Gant (5) and Craig Tatum. David Marchbanks, Chris Hernandez (8) and Landon Powell.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.