The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: No. 22 South Carolina baseball drops weekend series to No. 3 Texas A&M

The Gamecock baseball team played a two-game series against the Texas A&M Aggies on Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6, 2024. The Gamecocks fell in both matchups, losing 2-9 and 3-6, respectively. The Aggies scored 7 runs in the first three innings on Friday, all but securing its win. On Saturday, senior infielder Gavin Casas hit South Carolina's first pinch-hit home run since the its game against Florida on May 19, 2022, but it wasn't enough to push the Gamecocks ahead of the Aggies. Next up, South Carolina will face UNC on April 9, 2024, at 7 p.m. on the road at Truist Field in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The No. 22 South Carolina baseball team dropped its home series to the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies over the weekend at Founders Park. 

In game one of the series, Texas A&M (28-4, 8-4 SEC) defeated the Gamecocks by a score of 9-2. The Aggies got off to a strong start by scoring 4 runs in the first inning, and it never trailed for the rest of the game.

The Aggies' ace, redshirt sophomore pitcher Ryan Prager, had an impressive day on the mound. In 6.1 innings of work, Prager struck out twelve batters and didn't walk any. South Carolina struggled immensely against the Texas A&M pitching staff, as it struck out 17 times on Friday night. 

For the Gamecocks, junior third baseman Talmadge LeCroy hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second to cut into the deficit. But the Aggies punched right back with 3 more runs in the top of the third to increase its lead to 7-1. With the win, Texas A&M secured an early advantage in the series.

South Carolina's starter in game one, junior pitcher Eli Jones, had a tough outing on Friday. In 2.2 innings, Jones surrendered 7 runs on eight hits and walked a pair of batters.

The Gamecocks fell to the Aggies again on Saturday afternoon, losing 6-3. Freshman pitcher Tyler Pitzer gave up 4 runs before being taken out in the third inning, while the offense couldn't recover. 

The South Carolina offense was able to get to the Aggies' starting pitcher, Tanner Jones, who scored two earned runs and allowed four hits in the third inning. The Gamecocks missed an opportunity to score some more, though, as junior outfielder Blake Jackson lined out to the pitcher with the bases loaded to end the inning. 

The Gamecocks were able to strike late in the eighth inning when senior infielder Gavin Casas hit a pinch-hit home run. The swing cut the deficit to 2 runs, but it wasn't enough of a momentum boost late in the game.

In game three of the series, South Carolina captured a hard-fought 6-5 victory, salvaging a win on the weekend. 

The Gamecocks started out hot with a two-run homer by sophomore outfielder Ethan Petry in the first inning. He was followed by another home run in the third inning off the bat of junior outfielder Kennedy Jones, which gave the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead through three innings.

South Carolina got a solid start from junior pitcher Matthew Becker. The Chapin native gave up just 1 run in his four innings of work.

The Aggies' offense heated up behind the bat of graduate student outfielder Hayden Schott, who hit an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run homer in the sixth to cut into South Carolina's lead.


Trailing 6-3 in the eighth inning, Texas A&M refused to go down quietly, as it scored a pair of runs to make it a one-run game heading into the ninth. South Carolina's closer, senior pitcher Garrett Gainey, slammed the door on the Aggies' comeback attempt with a strikeout to end the game and clinch the victory for the Gamecocks.

In addition to standout performances from Jones and Petry, graduate student second baseman Parker Noland had an impressive day against the Aggies. Noland went 2-3 with a pair of walks. Senior first baseman Gavin Casas also amassed three hits in his five trips to the plate.

The Gamecocks had a strong day at the plate on Sunday, as the team recorded eight walks and only struck out eight times. In comparison, Texas A&M walked twice and struck out twelve times. 

Here's some key takeaways from the weekend series before the Gamecocks face North Carolina in a neutral-site midweek game.

Kimball returns to form

One bright spot for South Carolina in game one was the performance of redshirt sophomore pitcher Roman Kimball. The Notre Dame transfer only gave up 1 run and struck out four in his 3.1 innings of work.

"Roman (Kimball) looked like Roman again," head coach Mark Kingston said. "If there's any positives tonight it was that the bullpen came in and all did really well, starting with Roman. And, obviously, Roman's a big piece for us."

Friday's outing was a step in the right direction for Kimball, who began the season in the weekend rotation but dealt with some inconsistencies, getting moved to the bullpen.

"For me, I've kind of struggled the last couple of times I've been out there. So to go out there and pump the strike zone, that was big for me," Kimball said.

On the season, Kimball is 1-1 with a 4.70 earned-run-average. He's struck out 21 batters and walked 19.

Good relief outing from Ty Good

Game two looked like it could be a long night for the pitching staff from the first at-bat, when Texas A&M third baseman Gavin Grahovac hit a home run off the batter’s eye. Freshman starting pitcher Tyler Pitzer’s night ended early after just 2.1 innings pitched and four earned runs.

Three relievers followed Pitzer across the following 6.2 innings, combining for nine strikeouts and 2 runs allowed, with only one of them earned. The bulk of those innings came from fifth-year pitcher Ty Good, who went 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and no earned runs.

We challenged him a little bit, and he’s the kind of competitor that, when he knows exactly what is expected or what you want, he can deliver it,” Kingston said. “I thought that was a big outing for him that will continue to open up opportunities.”

Good’s appearance marked the most innings he had been stretched by the coaching staff yet, previously only throwing three innings against Alabama on March 30. His 89 pitches thrown were also a season-high. Kingston said a big takeaway from Good’s performance was how he was able to maintain high velocity late into his outing.

I’ve been working hard trying to get my velocity up,” Good said. “Scouts and coaches have been telling me that they want to see my velocity go up and maintain it. So the biggest thing for me this week was doing that.”

Becker steps up in starting role

Junior pitcher Matthew Becker gave South Carolina everything it could've hoped for in his start in game three.

Becker held a red-hot Texas A&M offense to 1 run and five hits in his four-inning stint on Sunday. While Becker threw 83 pitches, he struck out eight batters and walked none.

"Matthew (Becker) was very good today. That's what we were hoping to see with him in the starting role." Kingston said. "He's been very good out of the bullpen. We were hoping he would have the same poise and comfort level as a starter, and he did."

It was a strong start for Becker, and it gave South Carolina some early momentum in the third game of the series against the Aggies. 

What's next?

South Carolina will face North Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday at Truist Field. First pitch is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be streamed on ACC Network Extra.


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