South Carolina spent the first two-thirds of the season as one of the best pitching staffs in the country, but the Gamecocks have struggled on the mound the last few weeks.
That didn’t change much Tuesday. South Carolina pitchers combined to give up 13 hits and walked three while the Gamecocks dropped their fourth-straight game, an 8-5 loss to North Florida in a weather-shortened, eight-inning game.
Tuesday’s loss was the first against a team not in the top two quadrants of the RPI this year.
The Gamecocks (36-12, 14-9 SEC) allowed double-digit hits for the seventh time in eight games and at least eight runs for the third straight game.
Like so many of their games before the Gamecocks fell behind early while spotting North Florida five runs in the third inning.
The Ospreys sent 10 to the plate in the inning, using a leadoff walk, a hit by pitch and six singles–three with two outs–to jump out to an early 5-1 lead.
The Gamecocks tried to make it a game, using an Evan Stone two-run homer in the fourth to make it just a one-run game but North Florida immediately answered back with two more runs.
Stone, back in the lineup for the first time in a while, went 1-for-3 with a home run and another sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
South Carolina gave up a leadoff walk then allowed the runner to move around with a throwing error followed by a misplayed bunt where no one covered first base.
The Gamecocks gave up the runs on an RBI single followed by a groundout to short in what was a largely self-inflicted inning.
South Carolina tried to get back into things but stranded 10 over the final four innings in a string of missed chances.
The offense put the tying run on base in five of the six final innings but could never tie things up. South Carolina struck out 12 times in that stretch with a double play mixed in as well.
Talmadge LeCroy–back in the lineup after a hamstring sidelined him–almost tied things up in the eighth. He’d loft a near three-run homer to left but it died at the wall instead.
Gavin Casas hit a rocket off the bat in the eighth with the bases loaded but it found a glove to end the threat.
South Carolina did hit 9-for-24 with runners on (4-for-19 with RISP) but failed to get a ton of extra-base hits in the process.
The Gamecocks had 11 hits Tuesday, just two for extra bases.
But it was largely the missed chances defensively and on the mound where South Carolina struggled.
The Gamecocks committed two errors with two wild pitches, one passed ball and two hit batters.
Up next: South Carolina starts a three-game set on the road at Arkansas Friday night. The Gamecocks haven’t announced their starting rotation, but the game will start at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday night.
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