You would be hard pressed to find a college baseball series this weekend that had a trio of games as different as the matchup between USC and Mississippi State. The Gamecocks won the opener 6-4, snuffing out a ninth-inning rally by the Bulldogs. In game two, it was all Mississippi State as the home team run-ruled the visitors 13-3 for its first SEC victory of the season. On Saturday, it was Carolina’s turn to bust out the offense, but it took a while to get there.
Trailing 4-3 heading into the 7th inning, the Gamecocks exploded for eleven runs over the final three innings to blow past Mississippi State 14-5 and claim the series two games to one. USC, which has yet to lose back-to-back games this year, won a series in Starkville for the first time since 2011 to improve to 26-3 overall and 8-1 in the SEC. The Gamecocks are a half-game back of Vanderbilt for the lead in the East Division, with the Commodores wrapping up the weekend on Sunday against Georgia. MSU falls to 16-13 on the year and 1-8 in conference action.
As was the case in game two, USC’s Braylen Wimmer led off the festivities with a first pitch home run. Wimmer finished the game 3-of-4 with three RBIs and four runs scored. In the process, upping his season average to .342 with 28 runs batted in. Gavin Casas followed Wimmer’s home run with a solo shot of his own, which was his team-leading 15th long ball of the season. Dylan Brewer would also get in on the act with a solo HR in the second to push Carolina’s advantage to 3-0 after two.
It stayed that way until the fifth, as Jack Mahoney was solid in his seventh start of the season. Mahoney allowed a run in the fifth and then departed with the bases loaded and no one out in the sixth. The junior right-hander worked five-plus innings, giving up just one earned run on five hits with three strikeouts. MSU scored three times in the sixth to take the lead for the first time on Saturday. However, that lead was short-lived.
USC’s offense went berserk the last three frames, scoring a run in the 7th to tie the game, then putting up three in the eighth to grab the lead and seven in the 9th to put it out of reach.
James Hicks earned the win in relief, striking out four and allowing four hits and a run in 2.2 innings. KC Hunt, one of six pitchers to work the game for the Bulldogs, took the loss for MSU.
The Gamecocks will travel to Charlotte on Tuesday for the border battle with North Carolina before returning home for a gigantic SEC series against #1-LSU beginning next Thursday.