No. 14 South Carolina batted around in the first inning to score five times and senior left-hander Nolan Belcher worked into the ninth inning and struck out nine batters with no walks to earn his fifth win of the season as the Gamecocks defeated No. 13 Texas A&M 6-4 on Friday evening at Carolina Stadium clinching the weekend series. South Carolina is now 21-6 and 4-4 in the SEC with the Aggies now 18-10 and 5-3 in league play.
Belcher went 8.1 innings and allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits to improve to 5-2 on the year. Senior left-hander Tyler Webb recorded the final two outs with a pair of strikeouts to pick up his 10th save of the year. Texas A&M starter Kyle Martin suffered the loss and is 2-4 on the season. He lasted only 0.1 innings and yielded five runs on three hits with three walks.
Carolina sent nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the first to take a 5-0 lead and knocked Martin from the game in the process. With one out and runners on first and third, LB Dantzler laced a sharp hit ball through the right side that A&M second baseman Charlie Curl could not come up with scoring Graham Saiko for the first run of the game. Connor Bright kept the momentum going as he increased the lead to two runs with a base hit to center field scoring Joey Pankake. The hit parade continued with Chase Vergason as he laced a base hit into right field loading the bases. A walk to Grayson Greiner scored Dantzler and ended the day for Martin. With two outs and the bases still full, Tanner English knocked a double down the right field line scoring two runners and giving Carolina a five-run cushion.
The Aggies would get on the scoreboard in the fourth inning with an unearned run as they took advantage of a pair of Gamecock errors to cut the deficit to 5-1. Mikey Reynolds led off with a base hit to left field, the first base runner of the game for the Aggies after Belcher opened the game retiring nine in a row. On the play, he advanced to second on a fielding error by Gamecock left fielder Graham Saiko.
With one out, A&M had their second runner reach as Blake Alleman reached first on a throwing error by Pankake at shortstop. Reynolds would score on a fielder's choice off the bat of Troy Stein.
Carolina answered with a run in the bottom half of the fourth to extend the lead back to five runs. Saiko tallied a one-out single and scored on Pankake's two-out RBI single to left field.
Texas A&M scored twice in the seventh inning to cut the deficit to three runs. Logan Taylor drove in a pair of runs with a double to right-center.
The Aggies kept coming in the ninth inning. Designated hitter Mitchell Nau reached base with one out on a fielding error by Pankake. Brandon Wood then reached base with a base hit to give A&M a pair of runners. With two outs, Reynolds brought A&M within a pair of runs on a RBI single he lifted into left field scoring Nau. Webb dug in though and recorded the final out of the game with a strikeout of
Krey Bratsen on three pitches sealing the Carolina win.
South Carolina had 11 hits with Texas A&M finishing with nine for the contest. Vergason and English each had three hits to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Reynolds and Brandon Wood had two apiece to lead Texas A&M.
The series concludes on Saturday afternoon with first pitch at 1:30 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. Live video broadcast is available at GamecocksOnline.com with the game also on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM, "The Game."