Road Woes Becoming Woeful
The Gamecocks began yet another stretch of their murderous SEC road schedule to close out the regular season - a schedule that got worse when the Clemson game was rained out a week ago. Three of their last five SEC series would be on the road.
After getting blasted by Ole Miss last weekend in Oxford, the Gamecocks traveled to Birmingham, Alabama for another series against one of the weaker SEC clubs. Everything to lose and nothing to gain, Harris Honeycutt took to the mound.
The Gamecocks jumped out to an early 1–0 lead as the true muscle in the line up went "small ball" all of a sudden. Singles by Travis Jones and James Darnell followed by a walk to Justin Smoak, loaded the bases. Trent Kline came through with a sacrifice fly to put his team ahead 1-0.
The Tide scored one run in the third and another in the fourth on an Alex Avila home run to right field. At this point the game had been well pitched on both ends.
The Gamecocks tied the game in the top of the sixth with a blast from Travis Jones – his 12th on the season. It was there though that the game changed. When the bottom of the sixth rolled around, Alabama staged an eight run explosion to take a 10–2 lead.
Harris Honeycutt gave up two singles to start the sixth and was lifted for Will Atwood. "He wasn't as sharp as he has been," Coach Ray Tanner said, "But he battled hard and kept us in there. I took him out for a (lefty on lefty) match up. You have to give Alabama credit."
Atwood was wild and got roughed up, surrendering five runs – two of which were charged to Honeycutt. Not making it out of the sixth and leaving the bases loaded, Curtis Johnson came in and gave up a bases clearing double.
Alabama's Kent Matthes had two hits and three runs batted in in the sixth inning. After the game Coach Tanner said, "Obviously the eight-run inning was too much to overcome. Once again, you have to give Alabama credit. They stuck hits in there when they needed to, and we had a couple of plays that we didn't make."
Though the Gamecocks fought hard, they couldn't close the seemingly insurmountable gap.
With three runs already across the plate in the seventh inning, they left the bases loaded and never scored again.
USC, now 32-12 overall, fell to 10-9 in the SEC, while Alabama improved to 24-19 and 9-10 in conference.
The Gamecocks will look to even the weekend series up on Saturday at 5 p.m. in game two against the Tide. Arik Hempy gets the start in a game that the struggling Gamecocks really need to win.
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