Rally Comes Up Short as Gamecocks Fall to Bulldogs 5-4

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) – After trailing by three runs entering the ninth inning, eighth ranked South Carolina fought back as Carlos Cortes hit his second homer of the game to bring the Gamecocks within one, but 13th ranked Mississippi State held on for a 5-4 win on Saturday afternoon at Founders Park. Carolina is now 21-13 on the year and 7-7 in SEC play with MSU 25-12 overall and 10-4 in the league.

Junior right-hander Trey Jolly earned the win after facing four batters and allowing just one hit in one inning of relief. He is now 2-1 on the year. Sophomore right-hander Spencer Price picked up his 13th save of the season and second of the series as he gave up two runs on one hit with one walk in one inning of work. Junior right-hander Wil Crowe suffered the loss and is now 3-3 on the year. He went a season-high eight-plus innings allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

Mississippi State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning as Luke Alexander belted a solo homer to left field, his fourth of the season and 17th RBI of the year.

The Gamecocks responded with a home run of their own in the bottom of the third. Jacob Olson led off with a single to left field and Carlos Cortes made it 2-1 as he launched his second home run of the season over the right field wall.

The Bulldogs tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning. Cody Brown reached first on an error and Hunter Vansau brought the tying run home with a double to left-center.

MSU took a 5-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning thanks to three singles, including a pair of infield hits and a wild pitch. With bases loaded and no outs, Josh Lovelady grounded out to Jonah Bride to score Ryan Gridley. Brown, who singled up the middle earlier in the inning, scored the Bulldogs’ second run of the inning on a wild pitch by Colie Bowers. They added the final run of the inning on a two-out RBI single by Hunter Stovall to right field.

Olson and Cortes kept the Gamecocks in the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.  Olson walked with one out and scored on Cortes’ second homer of the game to bring the Gamecocks within a run.  But that would be it for Carolina as Price retired the final two Gamecock hitters of the inning to seal the win for MSU.

GAME CHANGER
Mississippi State’s three-run ninth inning gave the Bulldogs a three-run cushion.

KEY STAT
South Carolina left nine on base compared to two runners left on base by Mississippi State with the Gamecocks 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

NOTABLES
• Jacob Olson has successfully reached base in 23 consecutive games. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with two singles.
• Carlos Cortes recorded his second and third home runs of the season. He went 3-for-5 at the plate with two home runs and four RBI.  He is the third Gamecock this year with two homers in a game.
• Hunter Taylor threw out a team season-high two runners trying to steal.
• Chris Cullen has safely reached base in 11 straight games. He went 0-for-2 with two walks.
• Wil Crowe set a season-high with eight innings pitched, one inning shy of his career-high nine innings that he set his freshman year at Campbell.

QUOTABLE
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“It was a great game I thought there, until the ninth inning when we really made some uncharacteristic bad defensive plays. I thought that every play was there to be made to get us out of the inning and we didn’t make them. In tight games in this league against great competition that’s not going to get you on the right side of the win column. Wil [Crowe] was terrific, he battled and competed and gave us a chance to win. Carlos [Cortes] obviously had a great day, but we needed more than just Carlos. He had all four RBIs and we didn’t have many hits throughout the entire lineup other than Carlos and Jacob [Olson] at the top. TJ [Hopkins] had a couple down there. But it’s a team game and when you pitch great you have to play defense, and we can’t put those two things together right now. If you pitch and play defense, you don’t have to do crazy things at the plate and you can still win. It’s very disappointing. My heart has been ripped out of me, but we aren’t even halfway through the SEC season yet so we have to keep fighting.”

UP NEXT
The Gamecocks are back in action on Sunday, April 16 for the final game in the three-game series with Mississippi State.  First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Sunday is also Mystery Easter Egg Day. By picking up your Easter egg at the marketing kiosk, you could win an autographed baseball. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network and is also available on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”

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