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No. 9 Gamecocks run-ruled by Mississippi State, perfect in SEC no more

No. 9 South Carolina was going to hit a wall eventually. Baseball is too fickle of a game for these streaks to last forever.

Fresh off their seventh straight SEC win to start conference play — the Gamecocks stumbled in Game 2 at Mississippi State on Friday, losing 13-3 in a seven-inning run rule loss to even the series. It was the first time USC has lost via the 10-run rule this season.

The loss was a rare misstep for a USC team (25-3, 7-1 SEC) that is off to the best start of any USC team since 1975, but the Gamecocks will still have the opportunity to salvage the series and win a third straight SEC series with Saturday’s rubber game.

The typically reliably senior right-hander Noah Hall didn’t have his best stuff for the Gamecocks on Friday. The Bulldogs tallied four hits off of Hall in the first inning alone, then broke through in the third inning with back-to-back home runs from DH Hunter Hines and left fielder Dakota Jordan. MSU tallied nine hits against Hall in 2.2 innings, saddling him with five earned runs.

The Bulldogs kept applying against the USC bullpen, adding eight more runs in the next three innings as the Gamecocks unraveled. During that stretch, head coach Mark Kingston was ejected in the fourth for arguing with the home-plate umpire, and the USC defense committed two errors in the fifth to fuel a four-run rally. In all, the Bulldogs peppered USC’s pitchers for 18 hits in just six innings.

The game had started auspiciously for the USC offense with shortstop Braylen Wimmer homering on the first pitch of the game. But Misssissippi State right-hander Landon Gartman settled down from there and proved to be a tough matchup for USC’s hitters, retiring 13 in a row at one point. Even when Caleb Denny seemed to put a jolt into the game with a deep fly ball to start the fifth, MSU center fielder Colton Ledbetter jumped and extended his glove over the wall to rob a would-be home run.

Gartman allowed three runs, struck out four and walked none in his five innings, earning the win for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State (16-12, 1-7) entered the game in the exact opposite situation as the Gamecocks, having opened SEC play with seven straight losses. The win gave Chris Lemonis’ squad their first conference win of the season, setting up a rubber game at Dudy Noble Field.

Next four USC baseball games

Saturday: at Mississippi State, 3 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)

Tuesday: vs. North Carolina at Truist Field in Charlotte, 7 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)

Thursday: vs. LSU, 7 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)

Friday: vs. LSU, 7 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)