South Carolina was down two runs after the first inning of Friday night’s game at Ole Miss, but the Gamecocks didn’t let that bother them. USC scored nine consecutive runs and rolled to a 9-5 victory to claim the series.
Starter Braden Webb, the freshman right-hander, was masterful all night. He had 14 strikeouts, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning that he ran into any kind of trouble after the first.
Webb (5-1) allowed only one hit, and his only walks – two – had come in the first inning when Ole Miss scored two runs.
“All glory to God in this situation. I couldn’t have been more blessed after that rocky first inning,” Webb said. “Coming out in second inning and putting goose eggs on the board, there is not a better feeling than that. Just knowing your team is going to battle all game, putting up 14 hits and 9 runs on the board against an SEC school, clinching a series, it is a humbling feeling.”
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In the seventh inning, down 5-2 at that point, Ole Miss threatened for the first time since the first. The Rebels got runners on first and second with singles from Colby Bortles and Tate Blackman. But Webb was up to the task at hand.
Errol Robinson then bunted both runners to second and third, and Michael Fitzsimmons came to the plate, but struck out. Connor Cloyd then struck out looking.
A Chris Cullen RBI single in the second inning trimmed the Ole Miss lead to 2-1 after Dom Thompson-Williams had reached on a base hit.
In the third, South Carolina took the lead. After Marcus Mooney and Gene Cone reached on a single and a walk, LT Tolbert got a base hit to score Mooney. Later in the inning it was Thompson-Williams who got a base hit to score Cone.
In the fifth, the Gamecocks scored two more runs to take a 5-2 lead. They were able to tack on a run in the eighth and three more in the ninth for a seven-run advantage.
Webb made it through one hitter in the bottom of the ninth.
The Rebels’ J.B. Woodman singled to lead off for Ole Miss, and Webb’s night was done. It was just the Rebels’ fourth hit of the game.
“Braden was very effective obviously,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “Throwing 93-94 mph with a changeup like that, and getting his curveball over, he was tough to hit tonight. He had it all going. He had a lot of confidence in his changeup and he was throwing some offspeed pitches tonight behind in the count, which he hadn’t done up to this point.”
Webb was replaced by junior right-hander Reed Scott and Ole Miss added three runs. After a RBI double by Michael Fitzsimmons, Josh Reagan entered for Scott and finished things off for USC.
The Gamecocks offense was as potent as its defense and pitching. South Carolina had 14 hits. Cullen was 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs.
USC won game one 5-1 Thursday night.
Game 3 between the Gamecocks (22-2 overall, 5-0 SEC) and the Rebels (20-4, 2-3) is 3 p.m. Saturday on SEC Network.