Big innings send LSU past South Carolina 11-3

South Carolina and LSU looked to be headed for a seesaw affair in the rubber game of their three game series. That was before the Tigers used the sixth and eighth inning to break the game open and claim an 11-3 win over the Gamecocks. The loss drops USC to 14-6, 2-4 in the SEC while the Tigers move to 17-5, 4-2 in the league. For more information, continue reading below.

South Carolina scored early. LSU responded. South Carolina scored to tie the game up. LSU retook the lead.

But eventually the Gamecocks ran out of answers as the Tigers batted around in the eighth inning and scored five runs to put plenty of distance between them and Carolina cruising to an 11-3 win to claim the series.

"We started off real hot, had some momentum going. They came out here and battled us Saturday and really had the momentum going their way and they end up finishing," USC outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley got the Gamecock offense started in the first inning as the leadoff man hit his fourth home run of the season over the leftfield wall to give USC the early 1-0 lead. He finished the series with four hits in eight at-bats and scored five runs from the leadoff spot.

Though he is a true freshman, Bradley believes the job is one he is growing in to.

"I'm starting to settle down a lot better. I'm finding my role on the team," Bradley. said. "I'm very comfortable up there and just trying to make it tough for a pitcher to get me out."

Bradley's big day continued in the third inning as he notched a single and was brought home on a DeAngelo Mack hit and throwing error by Tiger second baseman Ryan Schimpf. That run put Carolina (14-5, 2-3 SEC) ahead 2-0 as starter Nolan Belcher didn't give up a hit through the first three innings while striking out three.

However the Tigers (16-5, 3-2 SEC) would roar back in the fourth as rightfielder Derek Helenihi lead off with a solo homer. LSU tied the game with two hits and a sac fly and took a 3-2 lead on another sacrifice fly in the inning by Schimpf.

"It felt good those first three innings, I was going along pretty well. And then that fourth inning came along and they got to me a little bit," Belcher said. "In high school, throw one down the middle you can get away with it. But at this level, especially in the SEC, you can't get away with hardly any mistakes."

Carolina tied the game in the bottom half of the fifth as Whit Merrifield brought home Bobby Haney on a sac fly that knotted the game up a 3-3.

Belcher made way for reliever Parker Bangs in the fifth inning and though he got a strikeout to end the fifth things got rocky in the sixth. After a walk to Sean Ochinko, the Tigers took the lead with a Blake Dean single and sacrifice fly by Micah Gibbs to go up 4-3. However they weren't done as Schimpf's two-run homer broke the game open for LSU with a 6-3 lead.

The inning did not end without some controversy as Carolina catcher Justin Dalles argued that a bat Dean used to get a single which put runners on the corners was illegal due to cracks in the bat. After a long conference involving both coaches and all three umpires, it was determined that the bat was legal and resulted in no penalty.

"It just had pressure cracks on it and with the composite bats they don't really break they just have pressure cracks and I saw it earlier and he said that it was illegal and that he didn't want them to bring it back and then he got the hit and I said something about it," Dalles said. "I guess we had a misunderstanding."

That would be all the offense the Bayou Bengal pitchers would need as Austin Ross allowed just four hits and three runs in 5.1 innings worth of work while relievers Paul Bertuccini and Matty Ott combined for 3.2 innings of hitless baseball.

"After splitting the first two games I was hoping we'd have a pretty good shot at them today. I felt like our bullpen was in pretty good shape," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "The difference was Austin Ross was very, very good. We weren't able to muster any offense. We scratched a little bit and hung in there."

The dagger came in the eighth inning as LSU amassed five hits and five runs while batting around to push their lead up to 11-3. Leon Landry's three run home run did the most damage while Helenihi added a two RBI double.

"That five run eighth was huge. The way the ball traveled today if you could have kept it a three run game at that point we might have been able to make a run at them," Tanner said. "They come at you in a hurry with a flurry and they throw runs on the board. They're good and that's what good teams do."

The loss puts USC with a sub-.500 record in league play after two series and things will not get any easier. After a trip to the College of Charleston on Tuesday, the Gamecocks return home to face Georgia Southern before hitting the road to play Kentucky over the weekend.

While the team tries to get it's pitching in order and spark some offense, Dalles believes the better team came out on top this weekend.

"They capitalized on mistakes and we didn't really capitalize on mistakes as well as they did and they came out on top," Dalles said.


-Over the course of the weekend, LSU used no left handed pitchers.

-Four USC pitchers combined to strikeout 10 LSU batters on Sunday while the Tigers had 11 K's from three different arms.

-Carolina now has a home run in all but one game this season.

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