LSU completes sweep of Gamecocks
The game was able to be completed despite two rain delays that stopped the game in both the bottom half of the sixth and eighth innings. LSU is now 28-16-1 and 9-11-1 in the SEC while the loss drops Carolina to 31-14 and 11-10 in the league. Carolina returns to action at home beginning on Friday night with a three-game series vs. Florida. First pitch for the opener is set for 7 pm with the game televised on Sun Sports.
Sunday's game featured two delays due to rain conditions in the Louisiana area. LSU starting pitcher Ryan Verdugo worked six innings before the first delay and allowed three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Verdugo improves to 7-2 this season. Carolina starter Blake Cooper went five innings and allowed five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and one walk. He is 5-4 on the year.
For the third straight day, the Gamecocks broke out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Reese Havens drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second base on a single up the middle from Whit Merrifield and scored on James Darnell's RBI base hit to the gap in left center. LSU tied it up in the bottom of the second inning on a home run from Derek Helenihi to start off the frame. It marked Helenihi's second homer of the year.
LSU would go ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning with another home run, this one a two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu. Matt Clark reached base with one out on a double to left field followed by LeMahieu's blast to left center that gave the Tigers a two-run edge.
LSU manufactured two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to increase the lead to 5-1 as Ryan Schimpf reached base on triple down the first base line and scored on a RBI base hit up the middle from Michael Hollander. Hollander would steal second base and eventually score on a bloop RBI single from Helenihi.
South Carolina crept to within two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Phil Disher launched a one-out solo home run to right center, his 15th of the year and 38th of his career to put him in a tie for 10th on the USC All-Time Career List. Harley Lail kept things going then with a walk and would then reach third base on Kyle Enders' single to the gap in right center. Lail scored on a fielder's choice from Parker Bangs.
With South Carolina trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth, heavy rains hit the Baton Rouge area to force a delay of the game. Carolina brought in Nick Godwin in relief of Cooper who worked a scoreless sixth and seventh inning before the rain hit again to cause the second delay. Godwin would return when the game resumed and got the first two outs before Jared Mitchell unleashed a solo home run to right center to give LSU a three-run cushion.
LSU out-hit Carolina10-8 with Helenihi going 3-for-4 to lead the Tigers. Matt Clark also had two hits. Phil Disher and Whit Merrifield had two hits apiece for the Gamecocks. Reese Havens also had a single to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. Justin Smoak's hitting streak ended at 18 games as he went 0-for-4.
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