Tanner English tripled home the go-ahead run in the ninth inning as South Carolina evened the series with a 4-2 victory against LSU at The Box on Saturday night.
HOW THEY SCORED
South Carolina first inning - Graham Saiko reached on an error by shortstop Alex Bregman. Chase Vergason singled. After a sacrifice bunt by Joey Pankake, LB Dantzler singled home Saiko. Max Schrock popped out to third baseman Christian Ibarra, but Brison Celek drove home Vergason with a single. SOUTH CAROLINA 2, LSU 0
LSU second inning - Raph Rhymes doubled and went to third on Ibarra's ground out to second base. Rhymes scored on Ty Ross' sacrifice fly to centerfield. SOUTH CAROLINA 2, LSU 1
LSU sixth inning - Rhymes doubled and moved to third on Ibarra's bunt. Rhymes scored on Ross' ground out to shortstop. SOUTH CAROLINA 2, LSU 2
South Carolina ninth inning - Grayson Greiner reached first base on an error by Bregman. After Bright struck out, Greiner scored on a triple by English. A balk by Chris Cotton enabled English to score. SOUTH CAROLINA 4, LSU 2
LSU WASTED SCORING CHANCES
First inning - Sean McMullen singled and moved to second on Mark Laird's grounder to the pitcher. McMullen didn't score as Bregman grounded out to second base and Mason Katz flied out to centerfield.
Third inning - One-out singles by Laird, Bregman and Katz loaded the bases. Rhymes hit into a double play.
Eighth inning - Bregman singled. After Katz lined out to shortstop, Rhymes reached on an infield hit. Ibarra struck out and Ross grounded out to first base.
Ninth inning - JaCoby Jones doubled and went to third on an infield hit by Jared Foster. McMullen and Laird struck out and Bregman flied out to centerfield.
LSU HITTING STAR
Rhymes had three hits and scored both Tigers runs. Rhymes led off the second and sixth innings with doubles and scored on both occasions. He also had an infield single in the eighth. Rhymes has three hits in three of the past six games.
LSU STARTING PITCHER
After two poor outings, Ryan Eades bounced back in impressive fashion against South Carolina. He allowed just two unearned runs and six hits in seven innings. An error by Bregman led to two unearned first-inning runs. Eades, who walked three and struck out three, was in trouble in only one other inning. Once again, poor defense got Eades in trouble. With one out, Laird lost Greiner's fly ball to centerfield in the twilight for a triple. After Bright walked, Eades got English to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
Joey Bourgeois got himself in a jam in the eighth on a leadoff single by Pankake and a wild pitch. But, Bourgeois retired the next three batters - Dantzler on a strikeout and Shrock and Celek on fly balls to Laird. Cotton suffered his first career loss when South Carolina pushed across two runs in the ninth. Another error by Bregman set up the runs. Cotton gave up a one-out triple by English and then balked him home.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri was ejected by home plate Fred Cannon after a balk was called against Cotton. Television replays showed there was contact between Mainieri and Cannon. According to Mainieri, he will be allowed to coach in Sunday's game. Mainieri said a second ejection would result in a suspension. Cannon ruled that Cotton failed to come to a complete stop in the set position. . .The Tigers used the same batting order for the second straight game. Foster batted ninth and played rightfield with South Carolina starting a lefthanded pitcher - Jordan Montgomery. . .LSU collected 14 hits, but scored only two runs. Every starter but Ross had a hit. Ironically, Ross drove in both Tigers runs. . .Bregman, Jones and Foster each had two hits. . .LSU put the leadoff man on base in eight innings, but got him home just twice. In three innings, the leadoff batter never got past first base. . .The Tigers were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Neither hit - a single by Katz and a single by Foster - brought in a run. . .Montgomery gave up two runs and ten hits in seven innings. Adam Westmoreland, who pitched a scoreless eighth, got the victory. Tyler Webb registered his 13th save with a scoreless ninth. . .The defeat ended LSU's 21-game home winning streak. Its last loss at The Box came against BYU on Feb. 23. . .LSU is 39-5 overall, 16-4 in the SEC. The Tigers trail Vanderbilt by two games in the overall league race. The Commodores beat Mississippi State 5-2 on Saturday. LSU has a three-game lead over Arkansas in the SEC West. South Carolina is 32-12 overall, 12-8 in the SEC. the Gamecocks are tied with Florida for fourth place in the overall SEC standings. . .The actual crowd was 10,246 - the largest for a regular season game in school history. The paid crowd was 12,727 - the largest in school history.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
Coach Paul Mainieri:
"I don't feel very good. This was a very frustrating game. That's the best way to describe it. We get 14 hits and only score two runs. The problem was we fell behind. When you get behind, you don't want to give away outs. We bunted Ibarra once and we got a run. The other times we didn't bunt. It's impossible to hit-and-run against a lefthanded pitcher. In one inning we get three hits and no runs. Laird doesn't get a good jump from second on Katz' hit. It's the little things you have to do. Then, we hit into a double play."
(on Ryan Eades' performance): "The first inning was a struggle for him. He had a couple of bad breaks and then he gave up a couple of hits with two strikes. But, he was able to hold them down. Ryan made some really good pitches and gave us an opportunity to win. Generally, we win this kind of game. South Carolina played good tonight. I tip my hat to their (starting) pitcher and their bullpen."
(on his ejection): "The umpire called a balk. He said that (Cotton) didn't come to a set. I don't see why you need to call it. He wasn't trying to deceive anybody."
(on starting Kurt McCune on Sunday): "Kurt has been waiting for this chance. Hopefully, he'll give us a chance to win. The last time we were in this position, we responded and won a tough game at Arkansas."
"On the play in the ninth, I tried to come in on the ball and it hit the palm of my glove. There is no excuse. I should have made the play. The same thing goes for the one in the first inning. In my at-bat in the ninth, I thought I would see a fast ball and I did. It was the hardest I hit a ball all night."
"You are not always going to get a hit in all the clutch situations. You can't get clutch hits all the time. But, that's what it takes to win championship games. South Carolina got the key hit and we didn't. Montgomery was mixing his pitches. He was throwing a change and some cutters."
"You see 14 hits and two runs and that doesn't match up. I thought we had good at-bats. But, you have to come through when the situation arises."
LSU will play host to South Carolina at The Box on Sunday at 2 p.m. Kurt McCune (3-0, 1.80 ERA) will be the Tigers' starting pitcher. LSU has played in one other rubber game in a SEC series this season. The Tigers defeated Arkansas in that game.