The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina baseball drops series against Missouri amid bullpen struggles

FILE—The South Carolina baseball team huddles before the game against Texas on March 13, 2022, at Founders Park in Columbia SC.
FILE—The South Carolina baseball team huddles before the game against Texas on March 13, 2022, at Founders Park in Columbia SC.

After struggling against Presbyterian College on Tuesday, South Carolina only took one game in its third SEC series at Missouri.


Coming off a three-run loss to Presbyterian College, South Carolina was able to get back on track after beating Missouri 4-1.

Senior outfielder Josiah Sightler was an absolute force on offense, hitting two home runs in his first two at-bats and notching three RBIs on as many hits. 

"That’s probably as good as a game as Sightler's ever had since he’s been a Gamecock," head coach Mark Kingston said. “The two big homers, the line drive hit there at the end. To be the kind of offense we want, we need Sightler hitting like that and that was great to see."

Senior third baseman Kevin Madden drove in the other run for the Gamecocks, finishing 2-for-4 at the plate with two singles.

Meanwhile, freshman shortstop Michael Braswell's plate struggles continued as he went 0-for-3 at the plate with a strikeout. 

On the other side of the ball, junior right-hander Noah Hall started on the bump and seems to improve with each game. Hall pitched lights out in his seven innings of work against the Tigers, allowing one run on three hits while tallying four strikeouts.

"Obviously Noah Hall really set the tone for us tonight," Kingston said. "He stayed ahead of hitters all night and mixed all his pitches for strikes."

Redshirt freshman right-hander Cade Austin came into the game in relief at the start of the eighth inning and closed out the game. Austin held Missouri scoreless while giving up just two hits and earning his second save in a row.

"Cade, again, did exactly what he’s been doing: pounding the strike zone, mixing his pitches and letting his defense work," Kingston said. "He’s been very consistent as of late for us."


After a strong outing from Will Sanders, the Gamecocks dropped a late lead to fall to Missouri by a score of 8-7.

Sanders went a strong seven innings, giving up only two earned runs in what looked like his fifth win of the season. The Gamecocks added run support behind him too, hitting three home runs, while holding a 5-2 lead after seven innings. 

"Will pitched just well enough to win," Kingston said. "Pitched seven innings and left the ballgame where we had the lead."

After he was pulled because of a high pitch count, the struggles began for the Gamecocks.

Out of the bullpen, Austin, junior Michael Esposito and freshman Aidan Hunter gave up a combined five runs in the eighth inning, handing Missouri a 7-5 lead late.

Brandt Belk picked up his third and fourth RBI against his former school in the ninth to tie it up. That would not be enough as a sac fly in the bottom half of the inning off of Braswell gave Missouri the win to tie the series up at one. 

"That shows the resilience of this team," said Kingston. "That speaks to what this team is made of. But we just have to be able to close games out late no matter who's out there." 


With a chance to win the series in the Sunday rubber match, the Gamecocks struggled to keep Missouri batters off base and ultimately fell short, 10-3.

Despite keeping composure in the early innings, South Carolina freshman left-handed pitcher Matthew Becker scraped by in his last few innings. 

He struggled to maintain control as he ended with five walks, three wild pitches and two batters hit by pitches. Becker’s struggles with control became most prominent as he approached his high total of 106 pitches over the span of 4.1 innings. Becker gave up three earned runs but struck out five in his outing. 

For Missouri, starting pitcher Austin Marozas gave up two runs in the first two innings. Following this, Marozas shut down South Carolina’s offense. He only allowed a total of four baserunners in 6.2 innings of work.

Prior to the fifth inning, this game seemed to be a pitchers’ duel that would surely end in a low-scoring contest thanks to multiple clutch outs for both starters.

A total of 17 runners were left on base between the two ballclubs.

What's next?

The Gamecocks will head to Charlotte, NC for a neutral site match against North Carolina on Wednesday, April 6. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be viewed on ACC Network Extra.


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