COLUMBIA, S.C. — Both pitchers were at their best, but the only earned run of the game turned out to be the difference.
Georgia Southern faced a pitcher’s duel in front of 8,091 fans against defending national champion South Carolina and Andy Moye tossed a complete game, four-hitter for the Eagles, but the Gamecocks scrapped out a 2-1 win Friday in the first round of the NCAA regionals in Carolina Stadium.
“We hung in there with one of the best teams in the country,” said Moye, a senior who went eight full innings for the second game in a row. “If there’s anything to build off it — it was a tough loss — but it should build some confidence for us. I was able to go the whole game, so it saved a bunch of arms for us. We’ll be fresh.”
The fourth-seeded Eagles (36-25) will face No. 3 seed N.C. State today at 1 p.m.
It was sloppy defense on both sides that got the scoring started for GSU and South Carolina (46-14).
Georgia Southern started the scoring in the third inning when Ben Morgan drew a leadoff walk. Brent Pugh attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Carolina starter Michael Roth (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 K) nailed Morgan at second, leaving Pugh on first with a fielder’s choice.
Pugh reached third on the first GSU hit of the game, a single by Scooter Williams.
Roth attempted to pick off Williams at first, but USC first-baseman Christian Walker dropped the ball and Pugh scored from third.
“Coach [Rodney Hennon] always tells us to be aggressive,” Pugh said, “and I saw the chance to go get that early lead.”
South Carolina got the run back in the fourth, scoring on its own unearned run.
Scott Wingo was hit by a pitch, and made it all the way to third when a pickoff attempt by Moye sailed past Steve Cochrane. Wingo scored on a sacrifice fly.
Walker scored the only earned run of the game on an RBI single from Adrian Morales in the sixth for a 2-1 South Carolina lead.
Roth shut down 11 Eagles in a row before leaving the game in the eighth after hitting Michael Burruss with a pitch.
“I knew if I had my stuff it was going to be a low scoring game,” Moye said. “[Roth is] a great pitcher. I thought we could hopefully scrap a few more runs. He did his job tonight.”
Carolina relief pitchers combined four strikeouts and set down six-straight Eagles to end the game. Voctor Roache, who leads the nation with 30 home runs, struck out looking on an outside fastball from Matt Price with two outs in the top of the ninth.
Top seed South Carolina faces No. 2 Stetson today at 7 p.m. The loser of that game plays the winner of GSU’s game against N.C. State on Sunday.
(2) Stetson 8, (3) N.C. State 7
Nick Rickles drove a single to left in the bottom of the ninth, and it was bobbled by North Carolina State outfielder Cameron Conner, allowing Stetson pinch runner Sean Emory to score the game winning run from second as the second-seeded Hatters squeaked past the No. 3 Wolfpack in the opening game of the NCAA Columbia regional Friday at Carolina Stadium.
N.C. State (34-26) scored the game’s first five runs, including a two-run homer by Harold Riggins (4-for-5) in the four-run third inning,
The Hatters (42-18) stormed back, plating three in the fourth and four more in the fifth to take a 7-5 lead.
The Wolfpack tied the game in the seventh on a two-run homer by designated hitter Danny Canela.
Matt Yopgus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.