COLUMBIA, S.C.- After a pair of one-run losses on Thursday and Friday, the Alabama baseball team was met with a more convincing outcome in Saturday’s series finale against South Carolina. The Gamecocks won 11-5 to complete their first SEC sweep since May 2021.
In a road series where the outcome was crucial for the Crimson Tide’s hopes of making a second straight NCAA regional, the sweep dealt a crushing blow to those chances.
Despite the team’s strength in starting pitching, Grayson Hitt had his worst day of the year, going a mere two innings and giving up five runs. Unlike in Thursday’s game, once South Carolina gained a big advantage, the Tide could not chip away. From a pitching perspective, the hurlers strayed away from one of their coaching staff’s fundamentals: throwing strikes and not balls. Finding the zone was a persistent issue throughout the game. There were numerous walks and hit-by-pitches. Hitt was tagged with the loss.
The Crimson Tide was able to score first in the game for the first time all series. Jim Jarvis led off the game with a hit, and scored later on a Drew Williamson sac fly. Next, William Hamiter doubled in Andrew Pinckney. Unfortunately, much like in the Knoxville series finale, they could not hold the lead. South Carolina plated three runs in the bottom of the frame and didn’t look back, stretching the lead to seven runs at 9-2 before the next Bama response.
That response was a three-run rocket from Dominic Tamez in the sixth inning, without even so much as a courtesy trot from the Carolina outfield. The Bama offense followed this up by leaving two men on base in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks continued to add insurance. As the Tide failed to draw closer, they widened the gap, plating one more in the seventh and another in the eighth to make it 11-5.
South Carolina starter Will Sanders was brilliant as the game’s winner, going seven frames with eight punchouts. Andrew Eyster continued to terrorize the Tide, adding to his weekend statistics with six RBIs.
Alabama’s overall record is now 25-20 following their third consecutive loss. South Carolina notched another game of distance between themselves and .500, and their record is now 22-20. Both teams have an identical conference record, 9-12, though the trajectories in those marks now appear different. Carolina moved to 18-9 at home and Alabama dropped to 6-12 on the road. Alabama will next face LSU in a home series for three games from Friday-Sunday.