LSU scored five runs over the last two innings, tying the game in the 8th on a two-out grand slam by Gavin Dugas, then taking the lead in the 9th on a single up the middle, to rally for an 8-7 win over USC Friday afternoon at Founders Park to even the huge SEC series at a game each.
The Gamecocks appeared on their way to clinching the series leading 7-3 going to the top of the 8th. Cade Austin relieved Chris Veach and walked two of the first three batters he faced. With two outs, pinch-hitter Braden Jobert singled through the right side. The LSU third base coach alertly held the runner to keep the inning alive and bring Dugas, a .344 hitter with 9 home runs, to the plate with the bases loaded.
Dugas deposited the first pitch he saw from Austin into the left centerfield stands to tie the game. The Gamecocks could not answer in the bottom of the inning against a pair of LSU relievers.
Eli Jones, who took the loss to fall to 4-1, started the 9th on the mound for USC and opened the inning with a walk. A bunt moved the runner to second, and a wild pitch got him to third with one out. Cade Beloso delivered what turned out to be the game winning hit with a sharp single up the middle for an 8-7 LSU lead.
The Gamecocks did threaten in the bottom of the ninth putting runners on first and second with two outs, but pinch-hitter Caleb Denny struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to the end the game.
USC scored four runs in the second to take the early lead. The Gamecocks loaded the bases with two outs. Gavin Casas and Ethan Petry were both hit by pitches, and Cole Messina doubled to right to account for the four runs.
LSU put a three-spot on the board in the top of the fourth with a pair of home runs off Gamecock starter Jack Mahoney. USC answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth after loading the bases with no one out. Talmadge LeCroy plated one with a single up the middle. Carson Hornung drew a walk for the second run, and Michael Braswell hit into a double-play to score the third run.
The Gamecocks had the chance to add to their lead in the seventh loading the bases with one out, but Evan Stone struck out looking and Braylen Wimmer flied out to center.
The Gamecocks had their 19-game home winning streak snapped, and it was their first loss this season when leading after seven innings. USC is now 28-4 overall and 9-2 in the SEC, and the Tigers are 26-5 and 7-4.