St. Patrick's Day Not Kind To Gamecocks
Pitching was once again the name of the game for these two teams. LSU's Jared Bradford dominated the Gamecocks for 8.1 innings. He gave up just 3 runs on 6 hits. Mike Cisco was charged with the task of keeping pace with Bradshaw. Cisco got off to a slow start, giving up a run on two hits in the first inning. He quickly settled in and mowed down eight consecutive batters. However, once again LSU catcher Sean Ochinko had the luck of the Irish with him. Ochinko, who drove in the first run for LSU, hit a fourth inning solo home run to put LSU up 2-0.
"Cisco pitched his heart out for us," said Coach Ray Tanner. "[It was] two pitchers going at it pretty good, and Bradford was just too much for our offense."
With the Gamecock bats stymied, every hit the Tigers managed took on added importance. When LSU tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh inning to make the score 5-0, the game appeared to be in hand. The Gamecocks showed resolve and were able to put a scare into the Tigers.
In the seventh inning, the Gamecocks made a rally. James Darnell drew a walk and then Travis Jones was hit by a pitch. Jones actually appeared do get hit by a pitch twice, but the umpire ruled that the first ball actually hit Jones' bat. After Tanner argued the call, Jones was awarded a base when the next pitch barely grazed his arm. With two men on and two outs, Tanner turned to Jon Willard to pinch hit for Reese Havens. The move paid off in a big way when Willard smashed a 1-2 pitch over the Gamecock Country sign in left field.
"He battled hard," said Tanner of Willard. "I thought Bradford made a pretty good pitch, [but] he steered it down the line and it looked like it might hook, but it stayed up there. It gave us a little bit of life."
LSU was able to add a crucial insurance run in the ninth. A throwing error paved the way for the Tigers, putting Michael Hollander on third. Two batters later, Blake Dean put down a bunt, and Smoak's throw to the plate was wide, allowing Hollander to sneak around for the run.
Now trailing 6-3, the Gamecocks had three final outs to work with. Bradford got Drew Martin to ground out, before Louis Coleman came in for the save. Darnell flied out for the second out. Steven Reinhold drew a walk, and Robbie Grinestaff came in to pinch hit, and made his mark. Grinestaff smacked his first homerun of the season to pull within a single run. The hero from the Eastern Michigan game came to the plate. Phil Disher, whose walk off grand slam beat the Eagles, was unable to repeat his heroics. He did draw a walk, giving Harvey Lail a chance to be the hero. Instead, it was Steven Waguespack who became the hero. Lail fouled off a pitch to right field, but Waguespack made a spectacular diving catch to seal the win for LSU.
"It really was too little too late," Tanner said after the game.
- The Gamecocks were in the spirit of the season today, wearing special green hats that had a shamrock on the back. Carolina also had green belts and socks; however nothing brought the Gamecocks any luck. "I don't think you'll see these uniforms again, "Tanner chuckled. "I don't necessarily think it's the reason we lost, but we'll put these away."
- It was World Series Day, and members from all of Carolina's World Series teams were honored before the game. Former coaches Bobby Richardson and June Raines each threw out the ceremonial first pitches.
- All three of Carolina's losses this season are by one run.
- Freshman Blake Cooper will start Sunday for the Gamecocks.
Player of the Game:
LSU pitcher Jared Bradford was nearly flawless. He pitched 8.1 innings and gave up just 3 runs off Willard's home run. He gave up just 6 hits and two walks to go with 6 strikeouts. "He was able to sink that ball," Tanner said. "he was throwing balls that were that looked like strikes, and then you'd swing at them and they'd be out of the zone. He was very good at it."
LSU's ninth inning score ended up being the key play for the Tigers. What seemed at the time to be just an insurance run ended up being the winning run for LSU. Worst of all for the Gamecocks, the run in the ninth inning probably should not have happened. A throwing error allowed Hollander to reach third, and a poor throw to the plate allowed him to score.
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