Gamecocks suffer second straight loss, drops midweek game to Furman
COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur.com) -- South Carolina is officially stumbling into its rivalry series this weekend.
Furman upended South Carolina 6-4 on Tuesday afternoon at Founders Park. All four pitchers the Gamecocks (6-3) threw allowed at least one earned run and the Gamecocks could get little going offensively for the second straight game.
"It's a little perplexing," first-year head coach Mark Kingston said. "Two days ago, we felt really, really good about our offense. We just went into a little funk the last 18 innings. We gotta get back to work, period."
Junior TJ Hopkins had the struggling stat line of the day leaving all six runners on base in the game. He came to the plate with the game-tying run on first base in the bottom of the ninth but popped out to right field to give him an 0-for-4 day at the plate, which included a walk.
"I promise you we'll be looking at what teams are doing to attack our hitters and make adjustments," Kingston said. "Our guys are very coachable. Sometimes it's a step back to take two or three forward."
Starting pitcher Logan Chapman gave up three hits in the third inning, all singles, that led to two earned runs for Furman. The Paladins erased a 1-0 deficit given to the Gamecocks when Hunter Taylor worked a bases-loaded walk in the second inning.
The lone bright spot of the night was senior Madison Stokes, who returned to the lineup in the designated hitter role after spending the last five games on the bench due to a hamstring injury.
Stokes, who was 2-for-4 on the day with an RBI and two runs scored, belted a solo home run in the bottom of the third to tie the game.
South Carolina only put multiple runners on base in an inning one more time in the game. Four of South Carolina's nine starters didn't have a hit and Stokes was the only player with multiple hits.
"It felt really good to be back," Stokes said. "I put a lot of hours into rehab. I don't want to rush it because a hamstring can be a nagging injury. It felt good to be back out there and get my feet wet."
The Paladins scored three runs in the seventh inning giving them a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Four hits, including a two-RBI triple by nine-hole hitter Sims Griffith, sunk the Gamecocks.
Reliever Carmen Mlodzinski, who suffered the loss, allowed a single and a walk before departing the game with one out in the frame. Closer Eddy Demurias entered and allowed the triple, a sacrifice fly and then back-to-back singles before escaping the frame without any further damage.
Junior Carlos Cortes, who began the day hitting just .185, launched his second home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth to draw the Gamecocks within one. The Paladins answered with an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning for the final score of the game.
South Carolina will return to the field on Friday for the first game of a three-game set against Clemson. Game 1 is at Founders Park with first pitch set for 7 p.m. on SEC Network +.
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