ATHENS, GA. — No. 9 South Carolina watched its chances of clinching a weekend series with Georgia fly over the center field wall.
Giving up a grand slam in the bottom of the third was too much for the Gamecocks (35-13, 13-11 SEC) to overcome as they fell to the Bulldogs 5-3 on Sunday.
Sometimes in baseball, it comes down to one pitch and one opportunity, South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. They had the bases loaded with a good hitter at the plate, and he made the most of the opportunity.
It appeared a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the third might end the day early USC starting pitcher Wil Crowes maybe it should have.
Following a meeting on the mound among the Gamecocks defense, Georgia first baseman Daniel Nichols knocked a grand slam over the center field wall. The Bulldogs (23-23-1, 9-14-1) took a 5-0 lead with Nichols two-out grand slam, the first of his career.
Crowe already is trying to delete the memory.
Im not really worried about all that stuff, Crowe said. (Im) just trying to come out here and get a win. I left one up, and he got ahold of it.
Crowe forced a fly ball to left for the third out of the inning his final pitch of the game. The freshman pitched three innings, allowed five runs (all earned) and gave up four hits.
He just made one mistake today that cost us the game, kind of, Grayson Greiner said. They got the big hit and we didnt.
Crowe (6-3) came away with the loss on Sunday as South Carolina failed to turn the momentum from Saturdays 5-2 win into a series victory. It was another disappointing outing for Crowe, whose last win came March 30 over Tennessee.
I just think hes making mistakes over the middle of the plate. His stuffs not the same, Holbrook said. Hes scuffling right now, but well get it right.
Georgia starting pitcher David Sosebee was on cruise control until the top of the sixth inning, when the Gamecocks put runners on first and second base with no outs. The redshirt sophomore remained in the game, but walked the following batter, Marcus Mooney, to load the bases for Joey Pankake.
Pankake was rung up on a called strike three to the lower inside corner.
Sosebee almost escaped the inning but allowed Jordan Gore to score on a fielders choice to second base. Georgia nearly secured the double play, but Kyle Martin beat Nelson Wards throw to first.
Greiner singled on the following at bat to advance Martin to second. Martin quickly advanced to third following an inaccurate throw to first made by Georgia third baseman Hunter Cole following his diving stop. The miscue allowed Gene Cone to score, which brought the Gamecocks within three runs. South Carolina trailed 5-2 midway through the sixth.
The sixth inning was Sosebees last on the mound. The Cleveland, Ga. native tossed a career-high six innings, allowed two earned runs and four hits, and struck out four of the 23 batters he faced in the win.
Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, two runs hardly made a dent in Georgias lead.
We had the bases loaded and our guys at the plate, and we didnt make the most of the opportunity, Holbrook said. Thats what it comes down to in baseball sometimes, and they (Georgia) capitalized.