CHARLESTON — The injury-plagued South Carolina baseball team cant stop the bleeding.
The Citadel pounded out 12 hits to roll to a 10-8 victory Wednesday night before a sellout crowd of 6,500 at Riley Park to hand the No. 11 Gamecocks their fourth consecutive loss and sixth loss in the past eight games.
With three starters not playing because of injuries, the Gamecocks (28-9) scratched out seven hits but managed eight runs thanks to four Bulldog errors and 10 walks issued by The Citadels pitchers.
Seven USC pitchers, however, handed out eight walks of their own to help fuel a Citadel offense that swung the bats well, as Mason Davis led the attack with three hits, including his first homer of the season.
They swung the bat very well, and we didnt make enough plays to win, said USC shortstop DC Arendas, who hit a solo home run in the second inning and walked three times. We pieced together some good at-bats and had some innings where we scored some runs, but we came up short at the end.
Holbrook looked at his teams walks, three errors, and a base-running blunder by Kyle Martin during an eighth-inning rally, and he recognized why the Gamecocks came up short. Third baseman Joey Pankake, shortstop Marcus Mooney and right-fielder Connor Bright were not in the starting lineup because of injuries.
Weve just got to play better. When youre short-handed, and you dont have some of your guys, youve got to play really crisp, clean baseball. No free 90s (walks), play good defense, no base-running mistakes, all those things, and we didnt do that tonight, Holbrook said. They knocked us around a little bit on the mound. The way they swung the bat, they certainly deserved to win.
Martin lashed a two-run double in the fifth inning, and Brison Celek added a solo homer in the sixth, but it wasnt enough. The Citadels Tyler Griffin and Drew DeKergeland combined for four hits and five RBIs.
USC right-hander Matthew Vogel (0-1) took the loss in the first start of his career after not getting out of the third inning. The Citadel right-hander Austin Livingston (2-4), who entered the game with an 8.39 ERA, pitched five innings to collect the win. Skylar Hunter pitched the ninth for his seventh save.
Im certainly very concerned. Were 28-9, and it isnt the end of the world, but Id be the first to say that I think some of our guys confidence is shaken a little bit, Holbrook said. I dont know if I have the answer. All I know is youve got to play well.
After consecutive losses in SEC series, including the final two games of the Florida series, as well as midweek losses to Charleston Southern and The Citadel, the Gamecocks, who travel to Auburn this weekend, understand they must find a way to get things turned around quickly.
I dont think you can allow it to snowball, Arendas said. That would be a sign of mental weakness. Our coaching staff always talks about mental toughness. Guys who are getting opportunities just have to step up and play better. We all know that.
Arendas said the players cant use the injuries as a crutch. Holbrook couldnt agree more. The coach was happy with his teams effort, but believes the players must take charge of their destiny to get out of this rut.
Youve got to compete and youve got to play better than your opponent, Holbrook said. Youve got to get a big hit when you have an opportunity, make a big play and make a big pitch. Right now, were not finding a way to do that. We need that feel-good feeling again.