Gamecocks implode in 16-8 loss to Wofford

The South Carolina baseball team did its best to rally yet again, but this time the rally came up just short as the Gamecocks dropped their second game of the season 16-8 to Wofford. USC now heads to Starkville to take on Mississippi State in their first SEC series of the year. For more details read below.

Just like the past six contests before, the South Carolina baseball team fell behind to the visiting opponent early in the game. And just like before they rallied to reclaim the lead a short time later.

However, this time the opposition kept coming and this time the Gamecocks didn't seem to have a response as No. 17 Carolina dropped its second game of the season by 16-8 to in-state foe Wofford.

For the Gamecocks, Wednesday night's game was the conclusion of an eight game home stand that stretched over just nine days. Though the hours spent at the park were no doubt long, the team refused to use fatigue as an excuse for the loss but acknowledged that tomorrow's trip to Starkville for a weekend series against Mississippi State was a welcomed moment of relaxation.

"We've played six games in a row. I think it was said that (coach Ray Tanner) can't remember the last time he's played six games in a row like we have. I think it took a toll on all of us. Tomorrow's going to be a good day to have off," first baseman Nick Ebert said. "Tomorrow's going to be a little more relaxed."

Carolina (10-2) took its lone lead of the night after Wofford (6-6) went ahead 1-0 in the top of the third. For the second night in a row, catcher Justin Dalles gave USC the lead on his fourth home run of the season.

The Gamecocks could not hold the lead for long though as the Terriers tied things up in the fourth via a leadoff triple by Jake Williams who was brought home on a ground out and a solo home run by Kyle Behrendt.

South Carolina did manage to take one other lead in the game as Mack, Ebert and pinch hitter Jeffery Jones hit three home runs within four at bats to give USC it's final lead at 7-5.

From there, the Gamecock bullpen couldn't hold on as Blake Cooper's relief appearance to start the sixth inning became the start of the end. The next five pitchers combined to give up 10 hits and 11 runs while in just four innings of relief work.

"You can criticize our pitchers and obviously I don't think we were very good on the mound tonight but I want to give credit to the way Wofford swung the bats too," USC Tanner said. "Wofford did a tremendous job swinging the bats against us tonight. They had just an offensive explosion against us. Just some great hitting. Hitting balls the other way, a couple hit and runs to perfection, they did a super job no question about it."

While the 17 hits are by far the most given up by the USC staff this season, the real trouble came in controlling where ball was going. All seven pitchers only allowed four walks but combined to hit a school record seven batters. Four of those batters hit resulted in Wofford loading the bases and three of those times they went on to score at least one run. The seven pitchers combined to throw 173 pitches on the night.

"We just had too many pitches get away from us. We walked four or five and hit seven. And they were swinging the bats like they were and we put that many runners on base," Tanner said. "At the end, we didn't have an answer."

Though the loss was disheartening as USC prepares to venture into SEC play, relief pitcher Curtis Johnson knows that the loss is one the Gamecocks will be to put behind them quickly as the season only gets tougher from here.

"Sometimes things like this happen. Wofford swung the bat well and did what they were suppose to do," Johnson said. "We've got to flush it out of our system. Baseball's a marathon not a sprint. You've just got to flush this one away and get ready for the next game."

NOTES:

-USC's five home runs in the game were the highest total by the team this season. It also means the Gamecocks have homered in every game this year.

-The 16 runs given up are the most by Carolina since a 16-1 loss to Auburn on April 13, 2007.

-The loss was the first time USC had lost to Wofford since a 9-8 defeat in Spartanburg on May 3, 2006.

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