**Release/photo by Allen Sharpe**
South Carolina needed an almost perfect performance against national No. 2 seed Arizona on Saturday, but that was not to be for the Gamecocks.
The No. 5 Wildcats scored four unearned runs in the fifth inning to blow open the game in a 5-0 victory over the Gamecocks.
Arizona began the scoring in the third when Katiyana Mauga launched a solo home run. That lead grew in the fifth after the Gamecocks committed a two-out error with the bases loaded, letting Dejah Mulipola score. Mandie Perez followed with a bases-loaded infield single, and Mauga brought home two more with a single to center, stretching Arizona’s lead to 5-0.
Arizona starting pitcher Danielle O’Toole (29-4) controlled the Gamecocks’ lineup, coming two batters shy of facing the minimum. She struck out seven in the one-hitter.
Gamecock senior Nickie Blue (10-11) took the loss, giving up five runs, one earned, on nine hits and four walks in 4.2 innings of work. She struck out two.
South Carolina faces a short turnaround, playing in an elimination game Saturday night against the winner of New Mexico State-St. Francis. The Gamecocks blasted St. Francis in the NCAA opener on Friday night.
The winner of the nightcap faces Arizona on Sunday for a right to go to the NCAA Super Regionals.