The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina men's baseball bats come alive after Friday slump to win series over Missouri

Junior catcher Wes Clarke celebrates after a hit in Saturday's game against Missouri. The Gamecocks won the weekend series against the Tigers.
Junior catcher Wes Clarke celebrates after a hit in Saturday's game against Missouri. The Gamecocks won the weekend series against the Tigers.

After a subpar performance on Friday night for the Gamecocks, South Carolina bats came alive over the weekend, scoring 24 runs in two games as the No. 11 South Carolina baseball team came away with a series win over Missouri at Founders Park.

The South Carolina offense put together 26 hits in the series along with 22 RBIs. The Gamecock pitching staff also shined over the weekend with 36 strikeouts.

Game 1

The Gamecocks could not get any momentum going offensively in their 7-2 loss to the Missouri Tigers Friday night.

South Carolina struck first with two runs in the second inning, one scored on an RBI single from junior centerfielder Brady Allen and the other on a wild pitch, but those were the only runs scored by the Gamecocks.

"Sometimes good teams play poorly, and that's exactly what we did tonight, and you just got to bounce back tomorrow," head coach Mark Kingston said postgame.

Junior slugger Wes Clarke hit his first double of the year in the third inning but was ultimately left out on base. Carolina struggled to score with runners on base all night, stranding 11 potential runs throughout the game.

Freshman righthander Jack Mahoney got an opportunity to start in the infield for the first time at third base, getting a chance to show his versatility as a two-way player.

"He did some good things tonight and obviously he struggled a little bit, too," Kingston said postgame. "He's a good player. He's a winner. And that's why he got the opportunity." 

Despite striking out nine batters, redshirt junior righthander Thomas Farr earned his second loss of the season after allowing three runs on four hits with four errors and five walks.

The bullpen struggled behind Farr, allowing four more runs on four hits and only striking out three more batters. This, along with defensive mistakes by the Gamecocks, sealed the win for Missouri.

Game 2

South Carolina came out swinging Saturday afternoon, beating the Tigers 11-1 to even up the series after dropping game one.

The Gamecocks saw another Saturday of solid pitching from senior righthander Brannon Jordan, who struck out eight in five innings, only allowing one run on two hits with four walks.

"He continues to give us really good outings in the middle of a series when the series has momentum going either way," Kingston said postgame. "He's done a really nice job of getting the momentum to our side."  

Junior righthander Daniel Lloyd got his first save of the season after pitching four shutout innings, only allowing four hits with two strikeouts and no walks.

 “Everything was working for me. I made the joke that I threw too many strikes today," Lloyd said postgame. 

After struggling offensively early on, Allen came through in the fifth inning with a three-run homer to ignite the offense, putting the Gamecocks on the board. This was the leadoff hitter's ninth home run this season and the first of the weekend for either team.

"It was an amazing feeling, and I really credit Colin and George getting on before and giving me some momentum," Allen said postgame. "As I say, hitting is contagious."

South Carolina found different ways to score against Missouri after relying heavily on the long ball against Georgia last weekend. This included capitalizing on pitching mistakes in the sixth inning as the Gamecocks scored three runs on walks and another two on wild pitches.

Allen said postgame it was cool to score runs in different ways and that "hopefully we can mix in both" now that the team has "got a taste of what that feels like."

Game 3

The South Carolina bats continued to pour it on Sunday afternoon as the Gamecock baseball team put together timely hits in a 13-4 victory over Missouri.

South Carolina assembled four multi-run innings, including a five-run eighth that ultimately secured the series win.

The Gamecocks hit 5-11 with runners in scoring position, with senior outfielder Andrew Eyster and junior infielder David Mendham leading the way with three RBIs each. 

“We took a lot of great at-bats today, got a lot of big hits,” Kingston said. “We had guys on-base all day, and we didn’t strike out in those situations and when you put the ball in play in those situations, you have a chance.” 

In comparison, the Tigers hit just 2-11 with runners in scoring position. This was thanks in part to some elite South Carolina pitching and defense by keeping Missouri from breaking an inning wide open. 

While the Tigers had 10 hits and many opportunities to bat runners in, freshman righthander Will Sanders, junior righthander Brett Kerry and Gamecock defense kept Missouri at bay, striking out 14 Tigers. Sophomore closer Brett Thomas also contributed in the ninth with a strikeout of his own.

This efficient pitching was highlighted by Sanders in the first inning, as he responded well to back-to-back extra-base hits from the Tigers, including a lead-off home run. After Missouri’s electric start, the freshman right-handed pitcher proceeded to strike out five-straight batters.

What's next?

The Gamecocks will now turn their attention to Charleston Southern, as they are set to take on the Buccaneers Tuesday night. The Bucs are coming off a series loss to Campbell this past weekend and are 10-11 on the season.

First pitch at Founders Park is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be streamed on SEC Network+.


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