*Courtesy Alabama Media Relations*
COLUBMIA, S.C. – In the rubber game of a Southeastern Conference series, the eighth-ranked Alabama baseball team suffered a 9-3 loss to drop the series to the eighth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. The series loss was just the second SEC series loss for the Crimson Tide this season.
“A lot of credit goes to South Carolina today. They came out in the first inning and got the first two and they put a lot of good swings on balls throughout the game,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “The game settled in for a bit and I thought Eicholtz did a good job. The key to the game was when we tied it they responded and scored in three of the next four innings. You can see the championship type club come out in those spots, and offensively we didn’t have an answer for them.”
Against three South Carolina pitchers, Alabama (29-15, 13-8 SEC) was held to seven hits as Austen Smith led the way with a 2-for-3 day that included a single, a double, a walk and a run scored. Georgie Salem was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Mikey White was 1-for- 4 with an RBI single.
The second pitcher for Alabama, Nick Eicholtz (2-1) suffered the loss after allowing four runs on four hits with three walks in relief of starting pitcher Tucker Hawley, who made his first SEC start since April 3, 2011. South Carolina reliever Cody Mincey (4-0) earned the victory after throwing 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of starter Wil Crowe. Joel Seddon threw the final 2.1 innings to close the game to record his second save of the series and 12th of the year.
he Gamecocks (34-11, 12-9 SEC) pounded out 17 hits against four Alabama pitchers. Leading the way for Carolina was Kyle Martin, who was 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Jordan Gore was 3-for-4 with an RBI, Marcus Mooney was 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored and DC Arendas was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
South Carolina got to Hawley early, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning on an RBI double by Joey Pankake and an RBI single by Martin. The Gamecocks extended their lead to 3-0 when Gore had an RBI single in the fourth inning off Eicholtz.
Alabama answered in the fifth, scoring three times to even the score at 3-3. After loading the bases with one out, Chance Vincent had an RBI ground out before White and Salem had two-out RBI singles to tie the game.
The Gamecocks regained their three-run lead after six innings, as Carolina scored three runs off Eicholtz in the sixth. With two outs and runners on second and third, Gene Cone singled to center field to drive in two, making the score 5-3. After Pankake walked, Alabama made a pitching change and a Jay Shaw gave up a two-out RBI single to Martin for the final run of the inning.
Carolina tacked on another run in the seventh when they got four straight one-out singles by Arendas, Gore, Tanner English and Mooney. Off UA reliever Ray Castillo the Gamecocks scored two more runs in the eighth on an RBI double by Grayson Greiner and an RBI single by Arendas.
Alabama returns to action on Tuesday night with a road game at Samford. First pitch for the game at Joe Lee Griffin Field is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.