It was almost a surreal moment for Wil Crowe on Friday night in the 10th annual GameFish Cup between the Lexington County Blowfish and a group of South Carolina alumni.
Crowe is coming off Tommy John surgery that forced the junior to miss the 2016 season with USC. He’s been with the Blowfish since the beginning of the season, and is working his way back into form. Getting the opportunity to face the former Gamecock stars was something he didn’t think he’d ever do.
“It was awesome,” Crowe said. “I’m good friends with some of them, and it’s always good to get out and be competitive with the guys. I was trying to get them out as much as I could.”
Crowe pitched five innings and allowed one run on three hits on 73 pitches as he continues his recovery. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, but it didn’t matter as the USC alumni rallied for an 8-4 victory to even the series at five games apiece. The USC alumni have won the past three in the series.
“Things are good,” Crowe said. “I feel fine and back to normal. I got to 73 pitches tonight and felt good doing so, so I shut it down then.”
The highlight of the night was provided by USC alumni Phil Disher. The USC star from 2005-08 hit 34 home runs his final two seasons, and proved that power was still evident.
He almost hit one out in the first inning off Crowe, driving a pitch to center that was hauled in just in front of the 394-foot sign. Disher didn’t miss in the sixth inning after Crowe exited. Adam Matthews led off the inning with a sharp single to center, and Adam Westmoreland followed with an infield single. Disher got two quick strikes before hitting a line shot over the left-field wall.
Disher’s been coaching for six years. He spent two seasons at Wofford, three Georgetown and this past season joined the USC-Aiken staff as the hitting coach. Nolan Belcher is the USC-Aiken pitching coach, so he’s had a chance to be around the game.
“Coaching at USC-Aiken kind of keeps me in shape a little bit,” he said. “I get a chance to hit and throw a little bit with those guys. It was sort of surreal because it’s been a while since I’ve had a live at-bat. But it came natural and I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on one and it got out of here.”
Hank Parks drove in the go-head run with an RBI groundout.
Kyle Enders (2007-2010) and Matthews (2009-2012), both pivotal parts of the 2010 and 2011 USC National Championship teams, paced the USC offensive attack with two hits each. Enders had two doubles and Matthews scored twice.
Matt Price, one of the best closers in College World Series history, came on in the seventh and retired all three batters he faced with two strikeouts and a ground out.
More important than the outcome of the game was the opportunity for the USC alumni to get together for a night of reminiscing. Disher was playing for the first time and said it was a great night to be around guys that have built the South Carolina program.
“It’s awesome to see the guys,” Disher said. “I was telling the guys earlier I’m the bridge from the older guys to the younger guys. I’m the go-between, but having to chance to play with all of them has been awesome. The camaraderie never changes.”