South Carolina was able to salvage the first game of the day but a 12-1 loss to Tennessee in the regular season finale has left the Gamecocks hopes of hosting an NCAA regional in a perilous position.
The Gamecocks close the regular season with a 38-17 overall record and 16-13 in the SEC. But they’ve lost their last four SEC series and closed out the year by going 10-14 after starting the year 28-3 and rising as high as No. 3 in the country. They lost nine of 11 and 11 of 15 to close the regular season.
South Carolina is the sixth seed for the upcoming SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks will play Georgia on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern time) in the single-elimination portion of the tournament. USC swept Georgia in the opening SEC series of the season, winning two of the games by the 10-run rule.
If they beat the Bulldogs and advance to the double-elimination part of the tournament, they will play LSU, the No. 3 seed, at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern time) on Wednesday. The Tigers and Gamecocks split a two-game series at Founders Park on April 5-6. The third game of the series was rained out.
South Carolina must feel like they have some work to be done in Hoover, Alabama for a chance to be one of the 16 regional hosts in the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina still sits at No. 6 RPI in the country with the No. 5 strength of schedule.
Tennessee (38-18, 16-14) won its first road SEC series of the season by taking two-of-three from the Gamecocks.
The Vols got all the offense they would need in a four-run fourth inning off USC starter Matthew Becker.
An error by Talmadge LeCroy started the inning and Zane Denton drove in the first run with an RBI single with no outs. Another South Carolina error scored the second run before Maui Ahuna ripped a 2-run double down the leftfield line.
Becker pitched four innings and allowed four runs, just one earned, on four hits with three walks and three strike outs.
South Carolina got on the board with a solo home run from Cole Messina in the bottom half of the fourth, but the Volunteers answered back with a home run from Griffin Merritt on the first pitch from James Hicks in the top of the fifth.
Tennessee added to the lead with a home run from Cal Stark to lead off the sixth inning. The Vols weren’t finished as they added six runs in the seventh inning. The big blow was a towering 3-run home run by Christian Scott off Wesley Sweatt.
The Gamecocks struck out a total of 22 times in the two games Saturday and 29 times in the series. They had 15 hits in the three games, just eight in the two losses.