USC falls in SEC tournament, facing elimination Thursday
HOOVER, AL (USC) -- After 12th ranked South Carolina rallied from three runs down to tie the game in the fourth inning, 13th ranked Mississippi State scored twice in the ninth inning with RBI base hits from Wes Rea and DeMarcus Henderson as the Bulldogs defeated South Carolina 5-3 in SEC Tournament action on Wednesday night.
Mississippi State is 42-16 on the year with South Carolina falling to 39-17 on the year. South Carolina will face No. 1 Vanderbilt in an elimination game on Thursday beginning 30 minutes after the conclusion of the 10:30 a.m. ET contest.
Tied 3-3 entering the top of the 9th, Adam Frazier led off with a base hit for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs then put a pair of runners on base with no outs. Alex Detz knocked a grounder up the middle on a hit and run attempt. Gamecock shortstop Joey Pankake went to field the ball but fell while fielding and could get neither the runner at second or at first. With one out, Brett Pirtle drew a walk by Adam Westmoreland to load the bases. With left-hander Tyler Webb into the game, Wes Rea knocked a 0-1 pitch into right field for a base hit scoring Frazier. After Demarcus Henderson failed on his squeeze attempt allowing the Gamecocks to tag Detz for the second out, Henderson made up for his mistake with a RBI base hit scoring Pirtle.
Westmoreland suffered the loss and is now 7-2 on the year. He allowed two runs on two hits in two innings with a walk and two strikeouts. MSU reliever Myles Gentry worked 5.2 scoreless innings with just three hits and three walks allowed and struck out eight batters to earn the win. He is 4-0 for the season.
Rea was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Henderson 2-for-3 with three RBI to lead MSU at the plate. Brison Celek went 1-for-3 with two RBI to lead Carolina at the plate.
Mississippi State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Frazier led off with a single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. A one-out single by Hunter Renfroe would give the Bulldogs runners on the corners. With two outs and runners still on first and third, Rea knocked a 1-2 pitch from Belcher into right field for a base hit scoring Frazier. Demarcus Henderson followed with a RBI base hit to left-center.
The Bulldogs increased the lead to 3-0 in the third inning. Brett Pirtle led off with a double down the left field line. After a sac bunt moved him over to third, Henderson knocked a sac fly to center to give MSU a three-run lead.
South Carolina responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game up. Joey Pankake got things started with a one-out base hit and LB Dantzler added a single to center to give Carolina a pair of runners. After a wild pitch, Grayson Greiner would walk on four pitches to load the bases. Max Schrock would drive in the first run for the Gamecocks on a walk. After working the count full, Schrock took a ball low and away to score Pankake. Brison Celek kept the momentum going as he ripped a two-run single up the middle to tie the game. That ended the evening for MSU starting pitcher Luis Pollorena. He worked 3.1 innings and allowed three runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
South Carolina received a quality start from senior left-hander Nolan Belcher. He allowed three runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
The Gamecocks will start sophomore left-hander Jordan Montgomery (4-1, 2.11 ERA) against the Commodores with Vanderbilt countering with junior left-hander Kevin Ziomek (10-2, 1.99 ERA). South Carolina will be the visiting team.