After taking down No. 4 Vanderbilt, the South Carolina baseball team (12-12, 2-4 SEC) dropped its midweek contest against Presbyterian 9-6 on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks struggled to pitch well early and were unable to keep up offensively with the Blue Hose (10-14, 1-5 BSC).
“We had guys that are trying to find themselves pitching on Tuesday and we have guys pitching on the weekend that kind of know who they are and how to get the job done,” head coach Mark Kingston said postgame. “That’s the biggest thing.”
Freshman right-hander Eli Jones and sophomore right-hander Brett Thomas, who are each recovering from Tommy John surgery, combined to give up three runs on six hits through the first two innings.
Presbyterian scored three runs on two hits and four walks against fifth-year left-hander John Gilreath in the fourth inning.
“John’s been struggling as of late. We need him,” Kingston said. “With the situation we’re in, we need him to be effective, we need him to be at his best. And he’s just not there right now. So, he’s just gotta keep working.”
Despite having to play from behind, South Carolina's bats answered with four runs to tie the game. However, the team’s biggest issue was its inability to drive in the go-ahead run.
South Carolina had an opportunity to take the lead in the fifth inning but freshman catcher Talmadge LeCroy could not convert, lining into a double play and leaving two runners stranded in scoring position.
Offensively, the Gamecocks finished 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and 5-for-20 with runners on-base.
"They made a lot of highlight plays tonight,” Kingston said, giving credit to Presbyterian’s defense for the performance.
Defensively, the Blue Hose turned two double plays, allowed one extra-base hit and held South Carolina hitless in two-out situations.
“They played well in our ballpark. I don’t think we necessarily took a lot of bad at-bats. We had five strikeouts and five walks,” Kingston said. “That’s a good outing. We hit a lot of balls hard, but they were there to make plays.”
The Blue Hose took the lead for good in the seventh, as sophomore designated hitter Chris Veach smacked an RBI double off junior left-handed pitcher Michael Esposito.
Outside of that one run, Esposito pitched well, striking out six batters in two innings of work.
“I thought he did a really nice job,” Kingston said. “He left a slider up for that RBI. And that’s a ball you gotta bury there because he had been beating them with fastballs. And so, when you go to the slider, you gotta put it in a good position. And it was just, he left it up a little bit too much.”
South Carolina will hit the road and begin a three-game series against Missouri on Friday night. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. and can be viewed on SEC Network+.