USC missed a chance to return to the Super Regionals Monday, dropping a heartbreaker to host East Carolina, 10-9 at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville, NC. USC jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on the Pirates but they couldn’t hold onto the lead late.
The Gamecocks go the scoring stated in the second inning with a Whit Merrifield two out RBI single. That scored Bobby Haney to give Carolina a 1-0 lead.
Carolina added five more in the third. That included at two run homer by light hitting Scott Wingo. The Pirates pulled starter Patrick Somers that inning. They turned to Chris Heston next but had to go to the bullpen again before the inning was over. Bailey Daniels closed out the inning on the mound but the Gamecocks were ahead 6-0.
AUDIO: USC post East Carolina (9:34)
(Ray Tanner, Whit Merrifield and DeAngelo Mack at the podium)
The Pirates got things going in the 5th inning with a two run homer by second baseman Ryan Wood. One batter later Gamecock starter Jay Brown was lifted for in favor of Parker Bangs. Bangs managed to get the Carolina out of the inning without any further damage but the momentum had clearly started to change.
ECU picked up where it left off in the 5th inning, scoring two more in the sixth and another pair of runs in the 7th to cut the Gamecock lead to one at 7-6. Parker Bangs didn’t make it out of the 7th inning. After giving up a leadoff single he was replaced by Alex Farroto.
The Gamecocks gave themselves some breathing room in the top of the 8th inning. Whit Merrifield led off with a single and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that with a two-run blast over the right field wall.
But that wouldn’t be enough. The Gamecocks missed a chance to pad the lead in the top of the 9th leaving the bases loaded and ECU made them pay in the bottom of the inning. After a leadoff walk, Curtis Johnson replaced Alex Farroto on the mound. He walked the next hitter and then gave up a three run homer Devin Harris to tie the game at 9-9.
Justin Dalles reached on an error to lead off the top of the tenth inning for the Gamecocks. He was sacrificed over to second by Brady Thomas but Andrew Crisp popped out to the shortstop and Bobby Haney grounded out to second to end the inning.
In the bottom of the tenth inning the Pirates got a one out double and put a runner on first after an intentional walk by the Gamecocks. Johnson got one more out before Sam Dyson was brought in the face Harris. Harris hit a 0-1 pitch into center field to drive home the winning run for the Pirates.
Harris drove in four runs in his final two at-bats to lead the Pirates to the comeback win.
Curtis Johnson took the loss for USC (2-1). Mike Wright earned the win for the Pirates.
USC finishes the season at 40-23. It is the second straight year they failed to advance to a Super Regional.