Founders Park: In the opening game of a key SEC matchup between top-five ranked teams, the Gamecocks struck early and often en route to a 13-5 victory over visiting LSU. USC added four HR’s to increase its NCAA leading total to 76 on the season, and continued its blistering start to the 2023 season, improving to 28-3 overall, and 9-1 in the SEC. LSU dropped to 25-5 overall, and 6-4 in the SEC.
In what was thought to be a pitcher’s duel between two of the top starting pitchers in the nation, a weather delay forced both starters out after just three innings. USC wasted no time flexing their muscles with a first inning 2-run HR by freshman sensation Ethan Petry, his first of two on the night, to go with an impressive 8 RBI. According to USC, the eight runs driven in were the most by a Gamecock since Adam Mathews had eight against the College of Charleston in 2011.
LSU ace Paul Skenes (5-1, 1.14 ERA) appeared to have his good stuff tonight, but the USC bats were just better. Skenes recorded strikeouts for eight of the nine outs while he was on the mound, but he also surrendered his first two HR’s of the season, and 3 runs overall (one unearned) on two hits over three innings. USC ace Will Sanders (2-1, 4.72 ERA) has struggled of late, but seemed to be finding his stride tonight, allowing one run on two hits, with four strikeouts in three innings pitched.
James Hicks (6-0, 2.52 ERA) got the win for the Gamecocks, allowing two runs on just two hits over four innings. USC hitters continued their aggressive approach at the plate, which leads to lots of HR’s, but also lots of strikeouts (15 tonight). But what’s so impressive is they also continue to make solid, constant contact with the ball, as only four of those batters were caught looking. Carolina scored in all but two innings on the night, but the most interesting inning was the seventh. Of the nine Gamecocks batters, four drew walks, two were HBP, two struck out, and the final batter popped out to deep center with the bases loaded. USC scored two runs on the inning, stretching their lead to 12-3 at the time. LSU added two runs in the eighth, bringing the final score to 13-5, Gamecocks.
After the game, USC head Coach Mark Kingston said he regretted fans not being able to see a longer duel between the two aces, but stated both coaches did the right thing not bringing their starters back out after the weather delay. Kingston also thanked the fans, noting that seeing and hearing the raucous crowd still packed into the stadium after the weather delay was a big reason the team played as well as they did. Star freshman Ethan Petry was asked about being the first batter to hit a HR against LSU ace Paul Skenes this season and said: “It felt good. I respect the elite, and he’s the elite of the elite.”
Due to weather concerns, USC and LSU will play a doubleheader tomorrow, starting at noon. RHP Jack Mahoney (3-0, 2.72 ERA) gets the start for USC, while RHP Ty Floyd (5-0, 2.87 ERA) will take the mound for LSU. — Story by Pat Daniel