COLUMBIA — LB Dantzler hit a two-run double in the sixth inning to bring South Caroilna back from a two-run deficit and Graham Saiko followed up in the seventh inning with a fielder’s choice to drive in a run as No. 14 South Carolina rallied for a 3-2 win over No. 13 Texas A&M on Thursday night in the opener of a three-game SEC series.
The Gamecocks, who host Texas A&M today at 7 p.m., improve to 20-6 and 3-4 in the SEC while Texas A&M dropped to 18-9 and 5-2.
Adam Westmoreland pushed his record to 2-0 on the year and Tyler Webb register his ninth save of the season.
The Gamecocks struck out 17 batters. Westmoreland hurled 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief and struck out seven, a season-high. Webb allowed just one hit while striking out four batters.
Texas A&M reliever Jason Freeman (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing one run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning.
The Gamecocks had the first 12 strikeouts of their eventual 17 in the first six innings but trailed 2-0. Evan Beal started strong striking out five of the first six batters he faced, but left after allowing single runs in the third and fourth innings.
Mikey Reynolds doubled in the third inning and scored on a two-out RBI single by Krey Bratesn to give A&M a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. The lead increased to 2-0 in the fourth as Daniel Mengden drove in Troy Stein with a fielder’s choice.
Trailing 2-0 entering the sixth inning, the Gamecocks mounted a comeback as Texas A&M starting pitcher Grayson Long walked Tanner English to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. He then surrendered a two-out single to Joey Pankake to put runners on the corners. That set the stage for Dantzler, who roped a two-out double into left center on a 3-2 pitch to tie the game at 2-2.
Westmoreland would continue to shut down Texas A&M with a little help from his defense as Saiko made a diving catch for the second out in the top of the seventh.
The Gamecocks would continue the offensive production in the seventh as back-to-back one out singles by Conner Bright and Kyle Martin and an intentional walk to English would load the bases for Saiko. Saiko would score a run on a fielder’s choice hit to the shortstop and the Gamecocks would take the lead.
With the score 3-2 at the start of the eighth inning the Gamecocks would turn to senior Tyler Webb to close out the game. He would give up a single to the first batter he faced but would strike out the next four of the next six batters he faced sealing the Carolina victory.
Carolina won despite being out-hit 10-5 in the contest. Dantzler went 2-for-3 to lead Carolina at the plate. Cole Lankford had three hits and Blake Allemand added two to lead A&M at the plate.