South Carolina pitchers silence LSU bats

Two South Carolina arms combined to give up just three runs on four hits to LSU as the Gamecocks took game one of the three game series 7-3. USC got help from its offense as four players hit home runs to give pitchers all the offense they would need. For more details, read below.

Now that's what they call bouncing back.

After giving up eight runs against Mississippi State last week, South Carolina ace Sam Dyson responded with seven innings of work and allowed just one run as the Gamecocks picked up a 7-3 win over LSU in game one of their three game series.

"I definitely wanted to improve on last week's outing," Dyson said. "This week I worked both sides of the plate pretty well."

In 120 pitches, Dyson walked six while striking out five and faced 28 batters en route to improving to 3-1 on the season.

His lone run came early in the game as LSU (15-5, 2-2 SEC) took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. DJ LeMahieu got the first hit of the game in the third and was followed by back-to-back walks to Jared Mitchell and Blake Dean to load the bases. That brought SEC batting average leader Sean Ochinko to the plate who hit a sacrifice fly to center to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. That sac fly would be the only noise Ochinko would make all night as the .464 hitter finished the night 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

That advantage wouldn't last long as Carolina (14-4, 2-2 SEC) answered back with a solo home run by rightfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. off starter Anthony Ranaudo to knot things up at 1-1.

The Gamecocks took the lead for good two innings later as shortstop Bobby Haney hit a ball which barely cleared the wall in right for his first career home run to give Dyson a 2-1 advantage to work with.

"They throw a lot of fastballs. Coach told me to be more aggressive and swing the bat hard and that's what happened I guess," Haney said.

That would be all the run support Dyson would need over his seven innings on the hill as he allowed just one base runner in each of the next two innings and held the LSU batting order in check.

"Sam gave us some quality innings. He had a couple of high pitch count innings. But then he came back with back-to-back nine pitches in two innings to get his pitch count under control a little bit," USC coach Ray Tanner said.

With closer Alex Farotto on in the eighth things looked to be headed for a smooth end as he retired three of the four batters he faced in the top half of the inning.

That's when the Carolina bats exploded for some much needed insurance. Bradley's leadoff walk to start the inning gave Whit Merrifield RBI's number 12 and 13 on the season as he took an offering from relief pitcher Paul Bertuccini halfway up the bleachers in leftfield to give the Gamecocks a 4-1 lead.

Walks to Nick Ebert and Jeffery Jones put two more runners on the bags for Andrew Crisp who took the next reliever Jordan Nicholson for a ride to the bullpen in left-center as the Gamecocks opened up a 7-1 lead. All of USC's runs on the night were scored via the home run.

"We were fortunate. We didn't get many but a couple of them left the yard. So we were very fortunate. We had some big at-bats," Tanner said.

Farotto's effort in the ninth inning proved to be a tough way to get his fourth save of the season as he issued two walks and allowed two more hits, allowing the Bayou Bengals to narrow the gap to 7-3 with the tying run in the batter's box. But a line out by Blake Dean to center ended the game and gave USC a 1-0 lead in the series.

"It makes it a lot easier. It's really big getting those extra insurance runs," Farotto said of the extra runs the offense gave him in the ninth. "It's a big difference between a one run and what was it five, six run game. It ended up coming up big for us."

After a collapse by Farotto against LSU in the SEC Tournament last fall which allowed the Tigers to rally for a 5-4 win in 10 innings, Tanner wasn't surprised at how tough earning the win was.

"The ninth inning didn't surprise me at all. Yea we walked three guys but that's not a surprise that they're going to come back at you and fortunately we were able to win it," Tanner said.

While the victory in no way assures USC of earning a series over the Tigers, Haney believes the win was key for the team's mindset especially after dropping the first two against Mississippi State last weekend.

"It was big. Very big," Haney said. "We wanted to take two out of three or three out of three against Mississippi State. We thought we could and things didn't work out the way we wanted to and we hopefully bounce back and take two, take three from (LSU)."

NOTES:

-The Gamecocks have now homered in all but one game this season.

-LSU came into Friday's game having given up just 14 home runs. They gave up four against the Gamecocks in game one.

-USC has now scored 7-plus runs in nine of their 18 games this season.

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