South Carolina swept the day with two wins over Alabama but both came in completely different fashions. The Gamecocks (32-11, 13-7) took the opener 1-0 in a pitchers duel and then out-slugged the Crimson Tide (17-27, 6-14) in game two as Sean Sullivan delivered the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth to take a 12-11 victory.
Senior Adam Matthews had two home runs on the day
Senior Adam Matthews spoiled the Alabama no-hit bid in game one by launching the very first pitch the Gamecocks saw on Friday afternoon into the crowd in right field for the team’s only hit. It proved to be just enough.
South Carolina trailed for most of game two as both teams combined to score 16 runs in the first four innings. The pitchers settled in though and began to throw up some zeroes on the scoreboard. The teams jockeyed for the game two win and it looked as though it would go in favor of the visitors when an RBI single in the top of the ninth put Alabama on top by two runs.
Five straight runners reached base for the Gamecocks in the bottom of the ninth inning and Alabama reliever Jon Keller picked up his second loss of the day when Sullivan dropped a bloop single to center to score a pair of runs - one earned, and one unearned - when left fielder Hunter Gregory overran the ball.
“Some days it just completely humbles you and devastates you,” South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said. “Other days you keep playing; you get 27 outs.”
South Carolina will look for its third straight SEC series sweep on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. Tanner said he wasn’t sure who was going to get the start, but it would likely be either Joel Seddon or Patrick Sullivan.
Carolina wins on a walk-off
South Carolina was playing from behind early as starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery was hit harder than he has been all season and he didn’t get much help from his defense. The Gamecocks had four errors on defense and Montgomery, who entered with a 4-0 record, allowed 10 runs on 11 hits over five-plus innings.
Only six of those runs were earned for Montgomery, who was on the leash for the loss after Alabama plated two runs in the top of the sixth inning to go ahead 10-9.
Freshman TJ Costen is mobbed after he scored the game-winning run in game two
“I missed my spot a couple of times,” Montgomery said. “They were just hitting it where we weren’t. You can’t do anything about that.”
The Gamecocks scored nine runs in the first four innings of play, but were held scoreless over the next four innings by relievers Trey Pilkington and Keller. Keller, a left-hander, was finally touched up in the bottom of the ninth.
South Carolina was down to its final two outs after Evan Marzilli began the inning with a strikeout. Junior Christian Walker belted a double to left field to begin the rally, which saw four more hitters come to the plate.
“I thought we swung the bats pretty well early, although we were behind,” Tanner said. “We kept battling and good things happened for us.”
Freshman Grayson Greiner who belted a three-run home run in the fourth inning, delivered a single to score Walker. Greiner advanced to third on a two-strike double down the left field line by TJ Costen to put the winning run in scoring position.
After a walk to LB Dantzler to load the bases, Sullivan, facing a drawn in infield, dropped a bloop single to left center. Gregory overran the ball which prompted third base coach Chad Holbrook to frantically wave Costen around third. The throw was late as Costen stepped on home to give the Gamecocks 10 straight SEC wins.
“I was just trying to get something elevated for a sac fly and to tie the game,” Sullivan said. “I couldn’t have thrown that ball in there any better than that. I’ll take it. A win is a win.”
Junior Matt Price picked up his fifth save of the season in a 1-0 victory in game one. He also set the school's appearance record at 89.
Carolina uses one hit to take Game 1
Thursday night’s game was postponed to 5 p.m. on Friday and the Gamecocks entered the game without a hit. After reliever Tyler Webb got the first three outs of the top of the eighth inning when play resumed, Matthews stepped up to the plate and erased a night of frustration with one swing of the bat.
The senior, who was mired in an 0-for-19 stretch, erased all of Thursday’s frustrations on the first pitch from Alabama reliever Jon Keller. Matthews knocked a fastball the opposite way and it carried over the right field wall to put the first and only run on the board of the game.
“It’s been a frustrating year at times,” Matthews said. “The only thing you can do is continue to work through it. I was telling myself to stay back and let my hands work. It worked out well today.”
The home run was the first of Matthews for the day. His very next at-bat, his first of game two, was also a home run, which gave him four on the year.
“He crunched it pretty good and got it out of there,” Tanner said. “We were staring a no-hitter in the face and ended up winning the game.”
Alabama starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull pitched seven complete innings on Thursday night without allowing a hit. However, in the top of the eighth inning, the rains came and postponed the game until the next day.
Turnbull entered the game with rather pedestrian stats on the season. In six starts, he held a 5.45 earned run average and 2-3 record. Opponents were hitting .272 off of the right-hander entering the night, but the Gamecocks couldn’t get much going.
South Carolina didn’t put their first runner on base in the second inning when Greiner was hit by a pitch. Freshman Joey Pankake reached in the third inning on a two-out walk, but the Gamecocks couldn’t do much more off of Turnbull.
While the Carolina bats were quiet, Alabama couldn’t muster much off of South Carolina starter Michael Roth either. The Crimson Tide were able to put up a crooked number in the hit column and did so on the first batter of the game. The visitors had a pair of runners on base in the first inning but Roth worked his way out of the jam.
Roth scattered four hits and two walks over his seven innings of action, but he, too, was lifted after the weather delay.
Closer Matt Price entered for the final three outs of the game and picked them up with ease for his fifth save of the season. He also is the new school record holder with 89 career appearances.
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