USC nearly lost the game in the top of the ninth against Alabama Thursday night at Founders Park, then regrouped in the bottom of the inning to walk-off with a 6-5 victory over the Crimson Tide. Catcher Colin Burgess, who threw out the potential go-ahead run at second to end the top of the ninth, blooped a one out single into short left to score Evan Stone from third with the winning run.
USC used three home runs to build a 5-0 lead through three innings. Andrew Eyster had a solo drive in the second. In the third, Michael Braswell made it 2-0 with a one-out homer to left. Three batters later, Josiah Sightler blasted a three-run shot onto the street behind the right field wall for a 5-0 lead. It was Sightler’s seventh home run in April and eighth of the season.
The Crimson Tide chipped away at the lead with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. It was still 5-3 in the top of the ninth when Alabama got runners on first and second with two outs against Cade Austin.
Drew Williamson drove a 3-2 pitch into centerfield. The runner from second scored easily. The runner from first, Jim Jarvis, made a daring dash for the plate and just beat the throw home from Stone to tie the game. Both runs were unearned due to an error on third baseman Talmadge LeCroy that opened the inning. Burgess then threw out Williamson as he tried to steal second to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Stone reached with a one-out bunt back to the pitcher and went to third on a single by LeCroy. Burgess then dropped his game winner into left for the second walk-off hit of his career.
Austin (3-1) earned the win working the final three innings. He gave up a hit and two runs but they were unearned. Brett Thomas started and pitched the first four innings allowing four hits and a run. John Gilreath pitched the fifth and sixth innings and surrendered five hits and two runs.
For USC, the win in an SEC series opener is just their second of the season. The Gamecocks are 20-20 and 7-12 in the SEC. Alabama is 25-18 and 9-10 in the league. Game two of the series will be Friday night at 7:00 PM.
Mark Kingston postgame
Colin Burgess postgame