USC opens SEC play with win

Sophomore right-hander Evan Beal struck out a career-high 10 as No. 5 South Carolina beat Missouri, 4-1, on Friday night in a Southeastern Conference opener at Taylor Stadium.

Grayson Greiner homered and scored a pair of runs and TJ Costen had a key two-run single as the Gamecocks improved to 16-2. The loss drops Missouri to 5-8.

Due to the weather forecast on Sunday, the two teams will play a doubleheader today starting at 3 p.m. Both games will be nine innings.

In his second start of the year, Beal (2-0) was effective in 61/3 innings with just one run allowed on eight hits.

Tyler Webb worked 11/3 perfect innings of relief for his sixth save. He had two strikeouts.

“I was just trying to go out there and get ahead on my first pitch,” said Beal. “I feel like I did a good job with damage control. I was able to shut it down, get some ground balls. The defense played great. It was a good team effort tonight.”

Missouri starter Rob Zastryzny (1-3) went seven innings and allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks.

“It was a big win for us against a really good pitcher,” said USC coach Chad Holbrook. “(Zastryzny) was terrific and Evan matched him pitch for pitch. We got a big swing of the bat from Grayson and a big hit from TJ with two outs.”

Carolina broke ahead 1-0 on Greiner’s first home run of the season. Greiner crushed a 1-0 pitch from Zastryzny over the left field wall to put the Gamecocks ahead by a run.

“I just wanted to get a good swing on the ball,” said Greiner. “I have a lot of confidence at the plate and hopefully I can build on what I did tonight.”

The lead increased to 2-0 in the fifth inning. Greiner led off with his second hit of the day, a base hit into left field. With two outs, the inning continued as Vergason was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Joey Pankake drove an 0-1 pitch from Zastryzny into right field for a RBI single scoring Greiner. The base hit also extended Pankake’s hitting streak to 10 games.

Missouri cut Carolina’s lead in half with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Kendall Keeton singled to center field with one out and scored on Logan Pearson’s double to right field.

South Carolina answered in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs to take a 4-1 lead. The Gamecocks were able to take advantage of a pair of Missouri errors as Max Schrock reached base on a fielding error by Tiger first baseman Josh Lester. Connor Bright reached as well on an error as a soft liner could not be corralled by second baseman Kendall Keeton. With two outs and both runners in scoring position, Costen delivered as he struck a 1-2 pitch from Zastryzny into left field for a single scoring both runners and giving the Gamecocks a three-run lead.

“(TJ) had two big hits tonight and hopefully he will get some confidence from that,” said Holbrook.

Carolina won despite being outhit, 9-7. Greiner and Costen had two hits apiece to lead the Gamecocks.

Kendall Keeton went 3 for 5 and Logan Pearson went 2 for 5 to lead Missouri.