COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Texas A&M Aggies were doomed by a three-run eighth inning by South Carolina and dropped a 6-3 decision to the Gamecocks in the series finale on Saturday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.
With Jason Jester, who retired the Gamecocks in order in the seventh, on the mound in a 3-3 game, LB Dantzler hit a first-pitch offering into the home bullpen in right centerfield for a solo, one-out home run. Connor Bright laced a double down the leftfield line and Chase Vergason was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Jester got George Iskenderian to pop up to first base for the second out. The inning appeared to be over when Dante Rosenberg lifted a fly ball to rightfield. Aggie rightfielder Brandon Wood was camped under the ball, but was not able to record an out despite the ball hitting his glove and Rosenberg was credited with a two-run double to give the Gamecocks a 6-3 lead.
South Carolina (22-6, 5-4 SEC) jumped out to an early lead with a run in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs, Vergason was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a balk and scored when Iskenderian slapped a single into centerfield for the 1-0 lead.
Texas A&M (18-11, 5-4 SEC) claimed its first lead of the series in the fourth inning. Cole Lankford hit a first-pitch offering into shallow left centerfield for a leadoff single. Troy Stein reached on a bunt single which bounced past the pitcher before being gloved by the second baseman, chasing South Carolina starter Jack Wynkoop from the game.
With Patrick Sullivan on in relief, Brandon Wood pushed both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Lankford scored when Charlie Curl bounced a grounder to the shortstop, who charged 40 feet before mishandling the hit for an error. Jace Statum reached on an infield single to load the bases and Mikey Reynolds sent Stein home with a sacrifice fly to leftfield for the 2-1 lead. Krey Bratsen was issued a base on balls to reload the bases, but Gamecocks reliever Adam Westmoreland got Blake Allemand to ground out to end the inning.
Dantzler tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth, hitting a 2-2 pitch over the rightfield fence for a leadoff home run.
South Carolina reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Bright hooked a 1-0 pitch around the leftfield foul pole for a leadoff home run and the 3-2 lead.
The Aggies manufactured an equalizer in the top of the seventh. Bratsen lined a leadoff single up the middle, stole second base and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Allemand. Mitchell Nau plated Bratsen with a groundout to first base, knotting the game at 3-3.
Texas A&M got runners aboard in the ninth, but were unable to tie the game. Jonathan Moroney reached on a leadoff single and was replaced at first by Reynolds who bounced into a fielder’s choice grounder to third base. Bratsen drew a walk, prompting the Gamecocks to call on Tyler Webb from the bullpen. Webb got Allemand to ground out to short and Nau to fly out to centerfield to end the game.
Aggie starter Daniel Mengden did not factor in the decision. He allowed three runs on four hits, two walks, two hit batsmen and one balk while striking out three over 6.0 innings. The loss was hung on Jester (2-1). He allowed three runs on three hits while striking out one over 2.0 innings.
Adam Westmoreland (3-0) earned his second win of the weekend. He allowed one run on three hits and one walk while striking out three over 4.2 innings of relief. Tyler Webb picked up his third save of the series and 11th of the season retiring both batters he faced in the ninth.
Bratsen went 2-for-2 with two walks and one run to lead A&M hitters.
Dantzler paced the Gamecocks’ offense, going 2-for-4 with two solo home runs. Bright went 2-for-4 with one double, two runs and one RBI.
The Aggies return to action on Tuesday with a game against UTSA on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park at 6:35 pm. The game starts an eight-game homestand for A&M.