A three-run second inning and 4.2 scoreless innings of relief by Josh Reagan and Tyler Johnson highlighted a 3-2 win for 25th ranked South Carolina over 11th ranked LSU on Friday night at Alex Box Stadium. The Gamecocks improve to 27-17 and 11-11 in the SEC with LSU now 30-16 and 13-9 in league play.
Reagan earned the win in relief with three scoreless innings of working allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two batters. He is now 5-1 on the year. Johnson pitched 1.2 scoreless innings of work to earn his eighth save of the year. LSU starting pitcher Alex Lange went the distance for LSU allowing three runs on five hits in nine innings with two walks and five strikeouts. He is now 5-5 on the year.
Carolina broke ahead 3-0 in the second inning on the back of four hits off Lange. Jonah Bride led off with a single to center with TJ Hopkins knocking a one-out single to left field to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners. Alex Destino would put Carolina ahead 1-0 on a RBI single to right field. On the play at the plate, Bride was ruled out at home, but a replay review by the umpires would overturn the call as replay confirmed that LSU catcher Michael Papierski missed the tag on Bride. With two outs and runners on second and third base, Madison Stokes would knock a 1-2 pitch into center for a base hit to give Carolina the three-run lead.
Kramer Robertson put LSU on the board in the bottom of the 4th inning with a solo homer, his fifth round tripper of the season. Robertson lifted a 3-1 pitch just over the wall in left field to cut Carolina’s lead to a pair of runs. The Tigers would cut Carolina’s lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Papierski and Zach Watson both singled to open the frame and then pulled off a double steal. Papierski would score on a wild pitch. Carolina limited the damage though as Reagan came in for Gamecock starter Wil Crowe and induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Greg Deichmann with one out to keep the Gamecocks ahead by a run.
LSU would threaten in the eighth and ninth innings with runners in scoring position but Johnson was able to keep the Tigers in check. With runners on second and third and one out in the eighth, Johnson got Jordan Romero to foul out a 3-2 pitch with a nice catch by Gamecock catcher Chris Cullen near the net behind home plate and he then finished the frame as Michael Papierski flied out to center field. The Tigers would put a runner on third with two outs in the ninth inning, but Johnson would close the game out striking out Jake Slaughter to preserve the Gamecock victory.
The three-run second inning was enough for the Gamecocks to earn the 3-2 win.
Gamecock pitchers battled all night as the Tigers finished 0-for-7 at the plate with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.
Madison Stokes tied his season-high with a pair of RBIs in Friday night’s game. He last drove in two runs at Tennessee on March 19.
Gamecock right-hander Wil Crowe allowed just two runs on five hits in 4.1 innings with three walks in his 12th start of the season for the Gamecocks.
Alex Destino reached base in all three plate appearances going 1-for-1 with a pair of walks.
QUOTABLE FROM HEAD COACH CHAD HOLBROOK
“I never thought three runs would have got it done. We really made some big pitches when they had runners in scoring position. It looked like they were going to at least tie the game and we got a big popup to the catcher in the eighth and we made some big pitches behind that. It wasn’t easy. They are a really good team. I thought they were one of the best teams in the country and they impressed me. We played well. We have to do a little better offensively. We have two more opportunities and we’ll see if we can get another big one.”
On the pitching staff and defense
“(The 6-4-3 double play) was a big play (in the fifth inning). We wiggled out of some jams that you usually don’t wiggle out of in this stadium. You have to credit our pitchers and our defense behind them. That was a beautiful double play there when we brought Reagan in. We’ve taxed Reagan and Johnson, they probably won’t be available tomorrow. But maybe we can get them back Sunday. It was a big win and I’m proud of our players and hopefully they come to the park with the same type of mindset that they did today.”
“There were some stressful pitches there. Bases loaded, 3-2 counts, I think twice and we got outs with both of them. We just made pitches when we had to tonight. We’ve had some games not go our way in these situations and today it went our way and I couldn’t be happier for our guys.”
On the second inning and facing Alex Lange
“(Lange) made some mistakes and we put some good swings on it. Madison with a big hit there with two strikes and two outs. That is what you have to do on the road. You have to find a way to get two-strike, two-out hits. Madison stepped up for us tonight in that spot. We had a couple of more opportunities, but Lange was really good after that inning. It was tough to put anything together against him, but we found a way to win and maybe we will play a little better offensively tomorrow.”
The Gamecocks and Tigers continue the series on Saturday night with first pitch at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”