Even after some early fireworks, the South Carolina baseball team had to sweat things out Tuesday against Charlotte.
Outfielder Jacob Olson, four games into his Gamecocks career, hit the team’s first home run of the 2017 season in second inning, before designated hitter Alex Destino did him one better.
After second baseman Justin Row doubled in the game-tying run in the bottom of the fifth inning, Destino hammered a two-run homer to right, putting USC up for good in an 5-4 win.
With Tyler Johnson on the mound in the ninth inning, No. 4 South Carolina (3-1) watched a two-run lead shrink to one with the tying run at third with one out. But a strikeout and fielder’s choice finished things.
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“It was a big spot,” Destino said of his two-run shot. “I knew my team kind of needed a little pick-me-up right there. They brought in a lefty to face me. I knew I was going to see a lot of off-speed, but (I was) kind of lucky to get ahead in the count on them.”
Colie Bowers picked up the win with two innings of relief, striking out one. Overall, the Gamecocks got 6 2/3 innings from the bullpen after freshman Sawyer Bridges was knocked out early.
The defense factored in there, as an error helped the 49ers (2-2) score in the first after a steal. But that wasn’t the only spot where South Carolina was rough around the edges.
“Made it a little bit harder than we wanted to or needed to because of lack of execution a little bit offensively,” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said.
Gamecocks center fielder and leadoff hitter T.J. Hopkins left the game in the second inning after running out an infield single. Holbrook said it was either a pull or hip flexor that has been bothering him for a month, and it might have tightened up. The coach suggested the staff needs to find a way to “get him off his feet, see if we can get that thing to calm down.”
USC will face Kansas State at 4 p.m. on Thursday in Founders Park. It’s another chance to tinker with the lineup after holding off the 49ers.
“It’s good to be in these kind of games because we’re going to be in a lot of them all year long, and it was good that we found a way to win,” Holbrook said. “For that, I’m happy, but we’ve got to play better.”