COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the sixth inning as Charleston Southern was unable to overcome the Gamecocks on the road at the Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field on Wednesday night, 2-1.
Jordan Bizzell drew a walk to lead off the sixth inning and moved around the bases on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch before scoring on a passed ball to give the Gamecocks (24-6) the 2-1 lead. The Bucs (13-17) put their leadoff runner on base in the top of the seventh as Georgi DeLio drew a walk, but that was in for the Bucs as Nickie Blue shut down the final three batters to close out the USC victory.
Charleston Southern tied the game up in the top of the fifth inning with aggressive base-running by Amanda Matsumoto to even the score at 1-1. After reaching on a two-out bunt single, Matsumoto stole her 22nd base of the season to move into scoring position. Jade Gandara beat out a soft grounder to the shortstop and Matsumoto never stopped running on the play, scoring in front of the relay home to tie the game up.
Matsumoto, Gandara and Stevi Johnson had all three of CSU's hits in the game as the Bucs and Gamecocks fought through a defensive battle throughout the game. The teams combined to leave 17 runners on base as timely pitching and fielding kept both squads off the scoreboard.
CSU's Hayley Elkins (6-12) took the loss after going 5.1 innings and allowing four hits. Elkins, the Big South strikeout leader entering the game, retired four Gamecocks on strikes in the contest.
Blue (11-5) closed out the final two innings in no-hit relief of starter Jessica Elliott. Blue struck out three of the seven batters she faced in recording the win.
Elkins pitched around jams in three of the seven innings as the Gamecocks loaded the bases several times in the contest against the Bucs. The sophomore right-hander recorded inning-ending strikeouts in both the first and fifth innings to keep USC off the board, but the Gamecocks pushed their first run across the plate in the fourth inning.
Victoria Williams drew a leadoff walk and stole second. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, she was singled home by Lex Hull to give USC the 1-0 lead.
The Bucs rallied back in the fifth behind Matsumoto's base-running, before USC took the game in the bottom of the sixth.
The Buccaneers are back in action this weekend as CSU hosts Longwood in Big South Conference play on Friday and Saturday afternoon. First pitch in Friday's opener is set for 3 p.m., while Saturday's doubleheader at the CSU Softball Field is set for first pitch at 1 p.m.