The final nail in the coffin for USC’s baseball season was hammered by Missouri closer Breckin Williams who was nails in a clutch 8th inning relief job that saved a 5-1 win for the Tigers and in all likelihood ended the Gamecocks’ season.
Called on to protect a 3-1 lead when starter Reggie McClain allowed a single and double to start the eighth, Williams struck out DC Arendas looking, got Kyle Martin swinging and and induced Elliott Caldwell to fly out to left field to end the Gamecocks’ final hopes for a comeback. Williams set down the Gamecocks quickly in order in the ninth to secure his 13th save and move the Tigers into the double elimination portion of the tournament.
The Gamecocks, who haven’t won a game in the SEC Tournament since 2012 and are now 25-42 all time in the event, managed just six hits off McClain and Williams, three of those by Gene Cone whose 8th inning double was USC’s only extra base hit. That was not enough offense to support starter and loser Jack Wynkoop who allowed four runs and nine hits over seven innings.
Missouri scored two runs in the second but the Gamecocks answered with a run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Arendas. The Tigers added a run in the fourth for a 3-1 lead. Meantime the Gamecocks had just one baserunner between the fourth and seventh innings.
The Gamecocks are 32-25 and with only 13 SEC wins and an RPI in the 60s, they are likely to be at home for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.
(Chad Holbrook, Jack Wynkoop, Gene Cone)