For the first time in 10 attempts, the Virginia Cavaliers dropped their opening game of an NCAA Regional. South Carolina used a big sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead, and the Hoos were unable to answer over the final three frames. Virginia led 3-1 heading into the third inning, but South Carolina got to starter Andrew Abbott and relief pitcher Kyle Whitten to the tune of three runs.
Virginia will now have to face the loser of No. 1 seed Old Dominion and No. 4 seed Jacksonville Saturday at noon.
South Carolina got out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a home run from the Gamecocks’ home run leader, Wes Clarke. The Cavaliers responded in the top of the third as brothers Jake and Zack Gelof both connected on solo home runs to make it 2-1 Virginia. The Hoos added an insurance run in the fourth as Zack singled in Jake, but Chris Newell was thrown out at third to end the inning and the scoring threat.
Two, two-out ground rule doubles in the bottom of the sixth tied the game at three and forced Abbott out of the game, but Whitten struggled and gave up another two-out hit that scored the decisive run.
The Cavaliers got a runner on in the seventh as Z. Gelof got another hit, but they weren’t able to do anything with it after getting him to second with a bunt. They didn’t reach base in the final two innings, and South Carolina’s Daniel Lloyd struck out the side in the top of the ninth. Overall, Virginia stranded six runners and went 1-for-7 (.143) with runners in scoring position.
Virginia got one more hit than South Carolina, but the Gamecocks strung them together when they needed. Abbott struck out six batters and was credited with all four runs, and Zach Messinger finished with three strikeouts.
The pressure is now on as the Hoos have to win to keep playing.