Gamecock Pitching Falls Apart
USC scored seven first inning runs and disposed of Alabama pitcher Austin Hyatt before the Tide were even able to bat. Evident though from Alabama's answer almost every inning, there would be no rout. When it finally ended, the Gamecocks were on the losing end of an 11-10 whirlwind of a game.
The Gamecocks came out ready to take the series after dropping the first game 4–1. A barrage of hits, errors, and hit batsmen had the Gamecocks rolling. Unlike so many monster innings in the past, the Yardcocks did not go yard in their seven run outburst. What they did do, though, was single and double their way through the lineup. Phil Disher's base running blunder and Harley Lail were the only outs the first time through the lineup.
After sending 11 men to the plate, they tallied six hits and seven runs. Travis Jones was 2-for-2 in the first inning alone.
Wynn Pelzer, staked to a seven run lead, was pummeled from the outset though. Giving up three hits, the Alabama offense cut the lead to 7-2, leaving the Gamecocks lucky to escape the inning with the bases loaded.
In the top of the second inning, the Gamecocks came out firing again. James Darnell hit a towering blast to left field, giving him the team lead with 15 home runs on the year. It was then that Alabama's second pitcher of the day, Will Stroup, settled in.
Except for a Travis Jones two run homer in the third, the Gamecocks were held in check for 7 and two thirds innings.
With Stroup in express mode, the Tide offense went to work. Redefining the cliché' "chipping away," they scored two in the third, one in the fourth, three in the sixth, and three more in the seventh. Three home runs included in their 11 hits, the Tide overtook the Gamecocks and then held them at bay for the duration.
The final blow was delivered off the bat of SEC star and Alabama third baseman Alex Aliva. His three run home run in the bottom of the seventh was his second of the day. Going 3-for-5, Avila drove in six runs as the driving force behind the incredible comeback.
South Carolina would threaten in the bottom of the eighth and ninth, but came up short each time. They left three runners on base in those two innings while never delivering the key blow needed to tie the score. After Harley Lail walked on four straight pitches to start the ninth, he was bunted over to second by Reese Havens. Steven Reinhild then singled to put runners on the corners with one out. A fly ball away from tying the score, Josh Copeland came in to strike out Travis Jones, before getting Trent Kline to ground out.
The Gamecocks are now 33-13 with a sub-par 11-10 record in the SEC. A once dominating team, #1 only a few weeks ago, looks vulnerable at the worst time possible. With an open week before hosting Kentucky next weekend, the rest couldn't come at a better time. Perhaps the Gamecocks got caught up in their own success. After losing their last two SEC series with a loss to Clemson in between, maybe this week will serve as a wake up call to a truly talented team.
Player of the Game: For Alabama, there's a tie. Alex Avila's 2 HR, 6 RBI performance was just as important as pitcher Will Stroup's 7.2 innings of relief. For the Gamecocks, Steven Reinhold's four hits matched his season total. It was also his first multi-hit game of his college career. Reinhold scored two runs and drove two in.
Turning Point: In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Crimson Tide finally disposed of Wynn Pelzer, before greeting Blake Cooper with three more runs making it a 10-8 Gamecock lead.
Statistics of Interest:
- James Darnell took over the team lead with his 15th home run.
- Not to be outdone, Travis Jones hit his 13th home run of the season in the next inning.
- Justin Smoak had two more hits and three more runs batted in this afternoon.
- Carolina's loss on Sunday marked the first time this season the Gamecocks lost a game when scoring ten runs.
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