Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman and catcher Jordy Snikeris proved to be too much for South Carolina as LSU took game one of the series and Friday doubleheader 5-2 at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks (38-14, 17-10) no longer have control of its own SEC championship hopes with the loss.
Gausman pitched a complete game allowing only five hits while Snikeris drove in three runs in his 2-for-4 performance, which included a game-clinching home run in the top of the ninth.
South Carolina needs to hope for another Kentucky loss if it wants to win the second straight SEC regular season championship.
LSU was able to jump on South Carolina starter Michael Roth early scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Lead off hitter Austin Nola began the game with a single and came around to score on a two-out single to left field Snikeris, the usual backup catcher who was only playing because the normal starter had an appendectomy just over a week ago.
The Tigers were able to double their lead in the top of the fourth inning when center fielder Arby Fields, a former football player at Northwestern, knocked a two-out RBI single to center off of Roth, which was the sixth hit he allowed in first four innings.
South Carolina was able to get that run right back in the bottom of the fourth inning mounting their own two-out rally. Gausman, who walked the lead off hitter of the game, did not allow a hit until LB Dantzler dropped a single to right field with two outs in the fourth inning.
After freshman Grayson Greiner walked, fellow freshman Joey Pankake dropped a two-strike RBI single to left field to bring home Dantzler without a throw. Pankake dropped down from the two spot in the order to sixth spot for the first time since early March.
LSU, however, was able to get that run right back just a few pitches later. Three-hole hitter Mason Katz lofted a high, arcing home run inside the left field foul pole to put the Tigers on top 3-1 in the top of the fifth inning. The home run was Katz’s team-high 11th of the season.
After Pankake’s RBI single in the fourth, Gausman retired 12 straight Gamecocks before junior Evan Marzilli knocked a two-out single to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning. Hoping that he would run into a pitch and tie up the game, Tanner elected to pinch hit sophomore Brison Celek.
Celek, however, grounded out to first base to end the inning as Gausman rolled into the ninth inning with a two-run lead.
LSU put up a pair of insurance runs off of reliever Patrick Sullivan on a two-run home run by Snikeris, which gave him three RBIs on the day.
Pankake plated his second run of the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, which scored Christian Walker who was hit by a pitch. After a two-out single by Connor Bright, pinch hitter Kyle Martin grounded out on the first pitch to end the game.
Gausman allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks for his second straight complete game. He struck out only six Gamecocks, which is far below his average, as he moved his record to 9-1 on the season.
Roth dropped his first game of the season giving up three earned runs on 10 hits and four walks. He struck out four on 131 pitches in his eight-inning start. Senior Logan Munson registered the final out for the Gamecocks on the mound.
South Carolina and LSU will start the back end of a doubleheader at 7 p.m. Sophomore Forrest Koumas will get the ball for the Gamecocks. The game is on Cox Sports, which only broadcasts in Louisiana and Arkansas.