Story by Matt Smith
Another promising start from Reid Morgan soured in a brutal half inning as South Carolina (22-16, 4-12) missed another opportunity to pull itself off the SEC’s bottom rung. Conference stalwart Texas A&M (28-11, 10-5-1) picked up the win behind a seven-run inning and another strong outing from ace John Doxakis.
Entering the seventh inning, Morgan had outdueled Doxakis and his Gamecocks held a 2-1 lead. But Morgan’s mastery wouldn’t extend further and the Aggies touched him up for a pair of quick runs and a 3-2 lead. After a wild pitch, Morgan yielded to left hander John Gilreath. Gilreath promptly surrendered an RBI single, three walks and a grand slam to Logan Foster. The end result of the disastrous frame was an 8-2 deficit and a hard-luck loss for Morgan (3-3).
Doxakis, meanwhile, backed up his reputation by giving the Aggies 6 1/3 innings on 98 pitches. For most of the night, the lanky southpaw dazzled the Gamecocks with an array of darting fastballs, dipping sliders and fading changeups. South Carolina did plate a pair of runs in the third inning on the strength of three opposite field hits and had a chance to break the game open after loading the bases. But Doxakis battled back from a 3-0 count to induce a groundout from Andrew Eyster and extinguish the rally. Doxakis regained his rhythm and retired the Gamecocks in order in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Luke Berryhill was the only Gamecock to tally more than one hit and the RBI’s were provided by George Callil and TJ Hopkins. The Aggies came into the series second in the nation in strikeouts and the trend continued as South Carolina fanned a dozen times in the loss.
Coach Mark Kingston was succinct in postgame comments, “Right now, we’ve taken a lot of body blows, but we’re not going to go down. We’re going to keep fighting and come out tomorrow and try to win a baseball game.”
It won’t get much easier for the South Carolina lineup as they are scheduled to face left hander Asa Lacy in Game 2. Lacy (6-1, 1.69 ERA) is also considered one of the conference’s best arms and is a major reason the Aggies find themselves near the top of the SEC standings. The Gamecocks will counter with right hander Cam Tringali (2-0, 2.81 ERA).
MARK KINGSTON POSTGAME: