When USC junior right hander Noah Hall is on, he can be tough to beat. On Friday, Hall was definitely dialed in. The Charlotte native threw seven scoreless innings, striking out eight, to lead the Gamecocks to a 2-1 victory over Alabama in game two of their weekend set at Founders Park in Columbia. The victory clinched the series for USC and improved Carolina to 21-20 overall and 8-12 in the SEC. Meantime, the Crimson Tide fell to 25-19 on the season and 9-11 in the league.
Friday’s game was an old fashioned pitcher’s duel as Alabama starter Jacob McNairy battled Hall pitch-for-pitch. Like USC’s starter, McNairy worked seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with seven strikeouts. Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision, despite combining for 15 K’s and just one earned run. That came in the third inning, courtesy of a Kevin Madden home run to left center field, giving USC a 1-0 lead.
The one-run advantage held until the 8th inning when the visitors tied the game off of Gamecock reliever Matthew Becker. The Crimson Tide cobbled together their lone run of the evening on an infield single, wild pitch, walk, and a base hit to right. However, Becker was able to retire the final two batters of the inning, stranding two, to maintain the 1-1 tie. A deadlock that would be broken in the bottom of the frame on a SAC fly by Brandt Belk to give Carolina a 2-1 edge going into the ninth. That was all Becker would need as he retired ‘Bama in order to record the win.
The series wraps up on Saturday at 12 noon on the SEC Network.