Matt Connolly

Gamecocks bench players get big hits in series win over Alabama

South Carolina Gamecocks pitcher John Parke (28) reacts after being congratulated by his teammates for his effort after being pulled from the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the ninth inning of their game at Founders Park.
South Carolina Gamecocks pitcher John Parke (28) reacts after being congratulated by his teammates for his effort after being pulled from the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the ninth inning of their game at Founders Park. jblake@thestate.com

For the second consecutive day, a South Carolina reserve came up big for the Gamecocks.

After Justin Row lined a game-winning single to left in the 10th inning on Saturday, freshman Riley Hogan had a pair of hits, including an RBI double, in USC’s 4-2 win over the Crimson Tide on Sunday.

Row and Hogan have combined to make nine starts in South Carolina’s first 23 games, but with others struggling in the lineup as of late, they provided big swings for USC over the weekend.

The Gamecocks won two of three games against Alabama to improve to 5-1 in the SEC.

USC appeared to be settling on a lineup entering the series against Alabama, but the Gamecocks struggled to get big hits with runners in scoring position and had only four hits in the series finale Sunday.

That could open the door for some reserves on USC’s roster, including Hogan and Row, to get more opportunities moving forward.

“You’ve got to play your hot hands, and you put people in there that you think can help you win that day,” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said. “I felt good about the matchup today with Hogan, and there are going to be days I feel good about (Carlos) Cortes and days I’ll feel good about (Jacob) Olson.”

Holbrook said before the season that 12 to 13 position players deserved opportunities to play.

But nine players have started at least 15 of USC’s first 21 games. That could change moving forward.

“Some of our guys are on par talent-wise with some of our starters, and I just need to give some guys some cracks, see what we’ve got,” Holbrook said. “Today was a day for Hogan, and I certainly loved the way he swung the bat. Maybe he can provide us some continued thump in there cause we certainly need it right now.”

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