COLUMBIA, S.C. – Eighth ranked South Carolina fought and rallied to score four in the bottom of the seventh inning but fell short as 13th ranked Mississippi State edged the Gamecocks 7-4 on Friday night at Founders Park. Carolina is now 21-12 on the year and 7-6 in league play, while the Bulldogs improve to 24-13 overall and 9-4 in the SEC.
Down 5-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Gamecocks recorded four runs on five hits, including three singles and two doubles to come within one run of MSU, but the Bulldogs added two runs in the top of the ninth to secure the win.
Sophomore left-hander Konnor Pilkington earned the win and is now 3-3 on the year. He allowed four runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Sophomore right-hander Spencer Price picked up his 12th save of the season after throwing a hitless 0.2 innings of relief with one strikeout. Junior right-hander Clarke Schmidt suffered the loss and is now 4-1 on the season. He allowed five runs, two earned, on five hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts in eight innings of work. Schmidt retired 19 batters in a row before giving way to left-hander Josh Reagan in the ninth.
Mississippi State broke ahead early as Brent Rooker launched a solo homer to center field in the top of the first inning, his 16th of the season and 57th RBI this year.
The Bulldogs added four more in the top of the second to take a 5-0 lead. Elijah MacNamee led off with a single to left-center and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Lovelady. Tanner Poole walked and Luke Alexander reached on a fielding error to load the bases for Hunter Stovall, who brought in two runs with a single to left-center. With the bases loaded for a second time, Ryan Gridley knocked in a pair of runs with a two-out single through the right side.
South Carolina got on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning with four runs. Chris Cullen led off with a single to left field and Alex Destino followed with another single to left. Cullen would score the Gamecocks’ first run on a wild pitch. Olson kept the hit parade going as he drove in Destino in with a single and made it to second on a throwing error by Gridley. LT Tolbert drove in Carolina’s third run of the inning as he singled to left to bring Olson home. Jonah Bride’s two-out double to left field scored Tolbert to bring the Gamecocks within one run. On the play, the Gamecocks looked to tie the game up but Madison Stokes was thrown out trying to score at home plate to end the frame.
A pair of errors would lead to two unearned runs in the ninth inning for Mississippi State.
Mississippi State’s two unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning ended Carolina’s momentum and extended a one-run lead to three runs entering the bottom half of the ninth.
South Carolina committed three errors that led to five unearned runs.
- Chris Cullen extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with two singles.
- Alex Destino recorded a season-high three hits. He went 3-for-4 at the plate with two singles and a double.
- Clarke Schmidt tied his season-high with eight innings pitched and was one shy of a season-high strikeouts with 11 on the night.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“Clarke [Schmidt] pitched his heart out. Josh [Reagan] pitched his heart out. It was a battle back there from a 5-0 lead. They had a 5-0 lead and we had position to tie it or go ahead. We just couldn’t get that big hit. We didn’t play great defense, obviously two plays – they had two earned runs the whole night. You’ve got to play defense in this league on Friday night or every night or every game you play. We didn’t play good enough defense, we didn’t execute well enough. We didn’t support Clarke and Josh good enough to win a game against a good team. At the end of the day that was the story. I’m proud of our players for not giving up and getting down to a guy that’s really good out there. We fought a way to get back in and fought our self back in it. We had a play at the plate that we couldn’t quite get there in time and maybe if we tied it up there, thing’s would’ve changed a little bit. Ultimately we didn’t execute well enough and didn’t play well or good enough defense to win the game.”
The Gamecocks are back in action on Saturday, April 15 for the second game in the three-game series with Mississippi State. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. It will be broadcast on SEC Network+ and is also available on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”