Summerville's Daniel Lloyd made his first college start as a South Carolina pitcher on Tuesday night at Riley Park, and left the game with a 7-run lead.
But Lloyd's start seemed like ancient history by the time No. 20 USC held off a Citadel rally to take a a 10-9 victory over the Bulldogs before 3,923 fans. Fellow Green Wave product T.J. Hopkins drove in two runs and scored two more for the 14-3 Gamecocks, who also got four RBI from catcher Luke Berryhill.
"I saw a Citadel team that didn't give up and took a lot of really good at-bats tonight," said USC coach Mark Kingston. "I didn't think our pitchers competed very well in the middle of the game."
The Gamecocks were up 9-1 in the sixth when The Citadel (7-9) launched its comeback, scoring eight runs in innings six through eight.
Freshman Tyler Corbitt, who had three hits, laced a 3-run double down the left-field line in the sixth, then came around to score on an error to cut USC's lead to 9-5.
A double from Bryce Leasure, a single from Lane Botkin and Andrew Judkins' sacrifice fly got the Bulldogs to within 9-6 in the seventh.
But Citadel pitchers issued four walks to force in a crucial USC run in the eighth; the Bulldogs turned a 6-4-3 double play to keep the score at 10-6. Leasure's RBI single in the bottom of the inning got the Bulldogs back to 10-7, and Ben Peden's 2-run triple to deepest center field made it 10-9.
Side-arming USC reliever Gage Hinson got Andrew Judkins to fly out to center to maintain that lead in the eighth, and retired the Bulldogs in order in the ninth to end a game that last three hours and 56 minutes.
"To be down 7-0 after two innings against such a good club is really disheartening," said Citadel coach Tony Skole, whose team out-hit the Gamecocks by 15-7. "But our guys showed a lot of fight, our bullpen did a great job of giving our offense a chance to get going. Very encouraged by our offense tonight."
Lloyd, a 6-1 freshman right-hander who helped Summerville High School to a baseball state title in 2016, had pitched to a 5.40 earned-run average in four appearances for the 14-3 Gamecocks this season, all in relief. He's one of four Summerville residents on the Gamecocks' roster, including Hopkins, fellow Green Wave alum Sawyer Bridges and freshman pitcher Dylan Harley of Cane Bay High School.
A former Post and Courier All-Lowcountry first-teamer, Lloyd improved his record to 2-0 and could be in line for more responsibility after his work against the Bulldogs (7-9).
He allowed three hits and a walk with three strikeouts over 2⅓ innings, throwing 39 pitches, which included two wild pitches. With an eye toward an SEC-opening series against No. 8 Georgia this weekend, Kingston limited Lloyd's pitch count against The Citadel.
"I thought Daniel did a nice job," Kingston said. "We wanted to get him out of there so he'd be available for this weekend, because he's going to be an important part of this staff for us. I just wished the guys behind him had pitched better."
The Bulldogs' Peden doubled off of Lloyd in the second, and advanced to third on a fielder's choice. But third baseman Jacob Olson gunned Peden down at the plate on a grounder, and Lloyd escaped the inning unscathed.
The Gamecocks chased Citadel starter Jordan Flanders after just four outs, racking up two runs in the first and five in the third. Berryhill launched an RBI double off the glove of leftfielder Lane Botkin in the first, and Hopkins lined a 2-run double in the second.
The Citadel scratched out a run in the third as J.D. Davis singled and later scored on Jeffrey Brown's single, cutting the margin to 7-1. USC tacked on two runs in the sixth for a 9-1 lead.
The Citadel travels to Indiana State for a three-game series this weekend.