No. 9 LSU defeats No. 2 USC, 5-2

COLUMBIA — Sophomore right-hander Kevin Gausman gave No. 9 LSU a “Major League” performance today in a 5-2 victory and the Tigers handed South Carolina ace Michael Roth his first loss of the season in the first of three games at Carolina Stadium.

There is a lot riding on this final series of the regular season, including SEC overall and division titles and elite seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

South Carolina fell to 38-14 overall and 17-10 in the SEC.

LSU is 41-13 overall and 18-10 in the SEC.

Only Kentucky (18-10) has a better record than the Gamecocks in the SEC East and LSU has clinched the SEC West title.

Game 2 is tonight at 7 p.m. The series concludes Saturday with a 1 p.m. game (ESPNU). The SEC Tournament starts Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.

LSU’s Mason Katz hit a solo home run off Roth and Jordy Snikeris hit a two-run shot off reliever Patrick Sullivan. Freshman shortstop Joey Pankake knocked in both South Carolina runs with a single in the fourth and another in the ninth.

Roth (5-1) gave up three runs and 10 hits over eight innings. The senior right-hander walked four and struck out four.

Gausman (9-1) allowed only five hits and notched his second complete game of the season.

“I tell you, the kid looks like a Major League pitcher to me,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “He doesn’t need much time (in the minors). Not only does he have a great repertoire of pitches; he knows how to use them. He has command.”

Reach Gene Sapakoff at 953-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff