USC’s run at a second straight SEC Championship came up just a little short. LSU scored twice in the 10th and held off a USC rally in the bottom half of the inning to top USC 3-2 in Saturday’s series finale at Carolina Stadium.
The win gives LSU a stake of its 15th SEC title and guarantees the Tigers will have one of the top two seed in next week’s SEC Tournament. USC could still get the number two seed if Kentucky loses to Mississippi State. Florida’s loss to Auburn Saturday guarantees the Gamecocks will be no worse than a three seed in the tournament. The top two seeds get a first round bye.
Despite coming up short, USC skipper Ray Tanner said he was proud his team played itself into a position to win the title. The Gamecocks started their SEC slate by getting swept at Kentucky. They lost two of three to Florida the next week, putting them in last place in the SEC East standings.
“I’m proud of our team as well for hanging in there,” Tanner said following the game. “We made a run toward the middle of the year to get back in the conference race and ended up playing on the last day with a chance to win the whole thing. We’ve come a long way from Lexington, Kentucky.”
LSU scored its run in the first inning off Gamecock starter Colby Holmes. Arby Fields hit a one out double off the left field wall and advanced to third on a passed ball. He scored on a ground out by Mason Katz to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead on the unearned run.
Fields first inning double was the only major mistake Holmes made. After that he retired 11 straight Tiger hitters and went on to pitch 6 2/3 innings strong innings. He didn’t give up an earned run and allowed only four hits and didn’t walk a batter.
The Gamecocks evened things up in the bottom of the third inning. Evan Marzilli led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Matthews. It looked like they pull ahead when Christian Walker put a charge in a ball to deep right field. It didn’t quite make it out of the park and Walker ended up with a one out double. The threat ended there when LB Dantzler grounded out to first and Grayson Greiner struck out looking to strand Walker.
In the 10th inning Evan Beal walked LSU’s Joey Snickeris on four pitches. Tyler Hoover used a sacrifice bunt to get Snickeris to second. It looked like Beal was going to escape the jam when Jacoby Jones lined out for the second out of the inning. But he walked the next hitter and left the game with runners on first and second with two outs.
Tyler Webb replaced Webb and gave up a single to LSU pinch hitter Jackson Slade 3-2 pitch that plated Snikeris. Mason Katz followed with another RBI single to give the Tigers an insurance run that turned out to be important.
USC made it interesting in the bottom half of the inning. Marzilli led off with a double and Matthews followed with a single. That brought Walker to the plate representing the winning run. He ended up hitting a sac fly to right field to score Marzilli. Dantzler followed with a fly ball to right for the second out and the game ended with Grayson Greiner fouling out to the first baseman.
USC finishes the regular season with a 39-15 record. They were 18-11 in the SEC. LSU finished 42-14 and 19-11 in the SEC.
AUDIO: Ray Tanner [8:44]
AUDIO: Evan Marzilli [2:35]
AUDIO: Colby Holmes [1:57]