USC eliminates Georgia as season ends at SEC Tournament
HOOVER, ALA. – The 22nd-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks posted a 9-0 win over Georgia to eliminate the Bulldogs from the SEC Tournament Tuesday at the Hoover Met.
The Gamecocks (39-17) took a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-run single by Evan Stone. Junior Jaden Woods started for the Bulldogs on a pitch count after five weeks off due to bicep tendonitis. He worked a scoreless first inning and then ran into trouble in the second. With one out and the bases loaded, Georgia turned to graduate Dalton Rhadans. He struck out Dylan Brewer but then Stone got USC on the board.
In the fourth, Brewer’s bloop single scored a run, and later in the frame with two outs, Michael Braswell lined a single to left that Connor Tate fielded and fired home to Will David. Brewer slid home and was ruled safe. The call was challenged and was confirmed on replay to make it 4-0. A bases-loaded walk pushed the Gamecocks advantage to 5-0 through four innings.
USC right-hander James Hicks (7-1) notched the win, going 6.2 innings and scattering four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. The Bulldogs put two on with two out in the second and fifth frames, and each time Hicks came back with a strikeout. In the seventh, Georgia loaded the bases with two outs on a walk to Sebastian Murillo (3-for-3), a double by Mason LaPlante and Josh Stinson was hit by a pitch. USC brought in Cade Austin in relief of Hicks, and he struck out Ben Anderson. Woods dropped to 3-3, allowing two runs on three hits in 1.2 innings.
In the seventh, USC made it 8-0 on a two-out, three-run triple by Will Tripett off Nolan Crisp who had provided three scoreless innings until that hit. In the eighth inning, a sacrifice fly by Ethan Petry provided the final run.
“James Hicks got us today, he was locked in and threw strikes and was the story,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “He didn’t allow any hits when we had runners in scoring position, and we never could get any momentum.”
The Bulldogs conclude the season with a 29-27 mark. Charlie Condon, who was named the SEC Freshman of the Year by the league coaches, became the 15th Bulldog in school history to capture the team’s triple crown. He led the team in batting (.386), home runs (25) and RBI (67). Condon is the first Bulldog to do it since Aaron Schunk (.339-15-58) in 2019.
“Our guys never quit, and I know on paper, we had a bad year,” Stricklin added. “We didn’t perform up to expectations. We have a lot of pride, and we came up short and that’s on me. It was disappointing. When you look at our body of work, we had trouble closing out games. In this conference, you have to slam the door when you have leads especially in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings, and that’s where we struggled.”