South Carolina shuffles lineup but can’t solve Mississippi State in series opener

·3 min read

Brannon Jordan glared toward South Carolina catcher Colin Burgess’ mitt.

Behind Burgess, home plate umpire Marcus Pattillo offered an emphatic ring up of Mississippi State’s towering left fielder Brad Cumbest. Frustrated with the call, Cumbest trudged his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame back to the dugout.

On the mound, Jordan strutted counter-clockwise around the rubber and readied for another at-bat.

Jordan repeated these steps batter after batter Friday. Four times to be exact. After an erratic first inning, Jordan was dialed in, allowing just three runs — two of which came in the first frame — over six innings pitched. It didn’t matter.

Falling in line with Fridays past, South Carolina (27-15, 11-10 SEC) failed to find an offensive output to back up its Game 1 starter in a 9-0 loss to No. 4 MSU (34-10, 15-7 SEC).

Heading into his start in Columbia, MSU ace Christian MacLeod hadn’t pitched more than five innings since April 9 at Auburn. Friday, though, MacLeod returned to his dominant-self. In seven innings of work, he fanned six South Carolina batters, while limiting the Gamecocks to just one hit.

Twice MacLeod struck out Gamecock hitters to strand runners on base. First it was Burgess went down swinging on three pitches in the third inning with runners on first and second.

David Mendham fared slightly better in the fifth inning, making it through five MacLeod pitches before bowing out with a runner on first.

Moving to the Friday slot in place of Thomas Farr, who will start Saturday’s contest, Bannon retired six of the seven batters he faced between the third and fourth innings to keep the Bulldogs largely at bay.

A smoked RBI single by MSU outfielder Tanner Allen in the fifth briefly disrupted Bannon’s momentum before he retired his next two batters to escape the frame.

Following Bannon’s effective outing, Gamecocks reliever Magdiel Cotto fell back to earth after a dazzling two innings against North Florida on Wednesday.

Inserted in the seventh inning and South Carolina trailing 3-0, Cotto promptly allowed a single, walked a batter and plunked another to load the bases. MSU third baseman Kamren James belted the game-opening hit with a ripped double down the line to clear the bases.

Cotto then gifted another MSU run with a wild pitch that scored James from third, while Cumbest struck back from his earlier strikeout with a double down the first base line to bring Scotty Dubrule home.

Allen, who finished with 3-for-4 with a pair of runs, notched his second RBI single of the night in the eighth for MSU’s final tally.

South Carolina has now dropped six of its seven Friday night contests — the lone win coming in a sweep of No. 10 Florida in late March.

Next USC baseball games

Who: No. 19 South Carolina (26-16) vs No. 4 Mississippi State (33-10)

Where: Founders Park in Columbia

When: 4 pm Saturday and 2 pm Sunday

Watch: Saturday streaming on SEC Network Plus; Sunday televised on SEC Network

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