The Daily Gamecock

Lively offense lifts Gamecocks to sweep of LSU

South Carolina (23-17, 9-9) completed a crucial sweep of No. 19 LSU (24-17, 9-9) at home this weekend.

The Gamecocks skewered LSU's pitching staff in all three games, racking up 30 runs on 38 hits and forcing the Tigers to make five pitching changes in Sunday's come-from-behind victory. Friday and Saturday's wins were South Carolina's first consecutive 10-run games since defeating USC Upstate 17-0 and LSU 10-7 on May 12 and 14 in 2015.

Though offense made the clear difference, South Carolina's pitching staff managed more than a few highlights as well. Logan Chapman was sensational in Friday's opening game, an 11-0 romp that saw South Carolina outhit the Tigers 14-2. Chapman struck out six and walked two in his first Friday night start of his career as he improved to 3-0 on the year. 

Carlos Cortes was instrumental in the win, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and crossing the plate three times, including a solo home run to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Saturday saw an equally impressive output at the plate backed by another quality start. While the South Carolina offense pounded LSU for an 8-0 lead by the end of the third inning and 11-4 final, Adam Hill improved to 4-4 with six innings of scoreless, four-hit play.

But though he kept the Tigers off the scoreboard, Hill threw a steep 116 pitches in his ninth start of the season. 

"Adam was effectively wild," head coach Mark Kingston said following Saturday's win. "To me, the final piece of his development is he's gotta minimize his pitches better. He's really tough to hit but ... he needs to throw more strikes."

Madison Stokes led the way for the Gamecocks' offense, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs and sealing the win in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run double off the left-field wall.

Sunday was a bit of a different story for the Gamecocks, giving the Tigers their first lead of the series.Cody Morris struggled early, allowing six runs — five earned — and six hits before being replaced by Eddy Demurias in the fifth inning. 

Down 6-0 heading into the sixth, the Gamecocks scored eight unanswered runs in their final three turns at bat to take their second SEC series sweep of 2018. Justin Row's fourth home run of the year and LT Tolbert's two-run single in the bottom of the eighth put South Carolina over the top in the three-and-a-half-hour marathon game.

Demurias made the most of his 18th appearance of the season, allowing no runs on three hits in four innings before Sawyer Bridges entered in the ninth to notch his second save of 2018.

With Sunday's win, the Gamecocks find themselves squarely in the middle of the SEC East, five games behind No. 1 Florida with four conference series still to play. Kingston said the Gamecocks look to be in better shape for the postseason, especially the SEC Tournament, which begins May 22.

"I think in this league it's generally known that if you're at .500 or better, you have a really good chance of getting into the postseason tournament and the NCAAs," Kingston said. "We're in the hunt, and that's all you can ask for at this point. Our season's been very uneven, but to be where we are with a chance to get within striking distance of the NCAA Tournament, that's what we're gonna continue to focus on trying to make happen."

South Carolina takes on in-state foe Furman in Greenville on Wednesday before meeting No. 10 Vanderbilt in Nashville this weekend. 

Furman upset the Gamecocks 6-4 at Founders Park on Feb. 27, and the Gamecocks are 5-6 against in-state opponents this year. 


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