For a third straight weekend, the USC baseball team will need to win back-to-back games to claim a series against an awfully good opponent. That’s because on Friday night, Tennessee scored three runs in the first two innings to get past the Gamecocks 8-3 in the SEC opener for both teams at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The loss dropped USC to 10-7 overall, while the Vols improved to 16-1 and a perfect 14-0 at home.
After getting plenty of offense in a doubleheader sweep of top ranked Texas last Sunday, the Gamecocks were handcuffed by Tennessee starter Chase Burns. The freshman right hander was terrific on the mound, holding USC to one run on just two hits in 6.2 innings of work. Burns also struck out nine in lowering his ERA to 0.81.
USC finally started to figure Burns out, scoring a run on an RBI groundout by Josiah Sightler to cut the home team’s lead to 3-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning. But that wasn’t nearly enough production as Tennessee belted out four homeruns in the game to up its nation leading total to fifty on the year. The Vols also entered the game as the country’s best hitting club with a team average of .353. Tennessee collected ten hits to go along with its eight runs against the Gamecocks.
Noah Hall (0-3) took the loss for USC, allowing four runs on eight hits in his five and two-thirds innings of work on the mound. Burns improved to 4-0 on the season with his 92-pitch gem.
Will Sanders (3-0/2.52 ERA) is expected to start for the Gamecocks on Saturday as they look to even the series at a game apiece. First pitch from Knoxville is set for 12pm on the SEC Network.