USC opened its SEC season Friday night at Missouri in what was the Tigers’ first ever SEC baseball game. And the Tigers saw first hand why the Gamecocks have been the SEC’s most successful team the past three seasons. Excellent pitching, stellar defense and timely hitting propelled USC to a 4-1 victory. Here’s the recap from USC sports information:
Sophomore right-hander Evan Beal struck out a career-high 10 batters as fifth ranked South Carolina defeated Missouri 4-1 on Friday evening in the SEC opener at Taylor Stadium. Grayson Greiner homered and scored a pair of runs and TJ Costen had a key two-run single as the Gamecocks improved to 16-2 with the win. The loss drops Missouri to 5-8 for the season.
Due to the weather forecast on Sunday, the two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday. Both games will be nine innings. The doubleheader will start at 3 p.m. ET.
In his second start of the year, Beal was effective in 6.1 innings of work with just one run allowed on eight hits. His 10 strikeouts bested his previous career-high of six he set last week in a win over Rider. Beal is now 2-0 on the year. Senior left-hander Tyler Webb worked 1.1 perfect innings of relief for his sixth save. He had two strikeouts also.
Missouri starter Rob Zastryzny suffered the loss and is now 1-3 on the year. He went seven innings and allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks.
“It was a big win for us against a really good pitcher,” said head coach Chad Holbrook. “(Zastryzny) was terrific and Evan matched him pitch for pitch. We got a big swing of the bat from Grayson and a big hit from TJ with two outs.”
Carolina broke ahead 1-0 on Grayson Greiner’s first home run of the season. Greiner crushed a 1-0 pitch from Zastryzny over the left field wall to put the Gamecocks ahead by a run.
The lead increased to 2-0 in the fifth inning. Greiner led off with his second hit of the day, a base hit into left field. With two outs, the inning continued as Vergason was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Joey Pankake drove an 0-1 pitch from Zastryzny into right field for a RBI single scoring Greiner. The base hit also extended Pankake’s hitting streak to 10 games.
Missouri cut Carolina’s lead in half with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Kendall Keeton singled to center field with one out and scored on Logan Pearson’s double to right field.
South Carolina answered in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs to take a 4-1 lead. The Gamecocks were able to take advantage of a pair of Missouri errors as Max Schrock reached base on a fielding error by Tiger first baseman Josh Lester. Connor Bright reached as well on an error as a soft liner could not be corralled by second baseman Kendall Keeton. With two outs and both runners in scoring position, Costen delivered as he struck a 1-2 pitch from Zastryzny into left field for a single scoring both runners and giving the Gamecocks a three-run lead.
Carolina won despite being out-hit 9-7 in the contest. Greiner and Costen had two hits apiece to lead the Gamecocks. Kendall Keeton went 3-for-5 and Logan Pearson went 2-for-5 to lead Missouri at the plate.