Matt Connolly

Players meeting provides a spark for Gamecocks in win over MSU

South Carolina shortstop Madison Stokes turns a double play against Mississippi State's Hunter Vansau at Founders Park on Sunday. South Carolina defeated Mississippi State 6-1.
South Carolina shortstop Madison Stokes turns a double play against Mississippi State's Hunter Vansau at Founders Park on Sunday. South Carolina defeated Mississippi State 6-1. Special to The State

The leaders on South Carolina’s team sensed something needed to change after the Gamecocks lost for the seventh time in 10 games Saturday afternoon against Mississippi State.

Some upperclassmen, fearing their final season was heading in the wrong direction, held a team meeting to try to provide a spark.

At least for one day it worked.

It was evident from the first inning on that USC had more energy in its dugout Sunday afternoon than it has as of late as Carolina topped the Bulldogs 6-1 in the series finale to avoid being swept and improve to 8-7 in the SEC at the midway point of the conference season.

South Carolina, which had struggled offensively and defensively at the end of close games this season, scored five runs in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie and earn a much-needed win.

“We just got together and figured some things out and, obviously, it worked. We are going to try and bounce back from Friday and Saturday and move forward from there,” junior Madison Stokes said. “It was just something to spark. Hopefully that spark will turn into a flame and it will grow from there.”

USC’s shortstop added that there is a sense of urgency on the team with only five SEC series remaining, beginning Thursday at Florida.

“We are just trying to make the best of it, have fun and enjoy the game while we can because it’s not going to last forever,” Stokes said. “We only get to play with this team one time because we will have seniors leaving and guys getting drafted. We just want to enjoy every moment of it.”

Gamecocks All-American closer Tyler Johnson added that it was nice to have an upbeat mood in the dugout throughout the game, and he believes it made a difference.

“We tried to get into it a little bit more and stay into it throughout the game. I think it helped us win the ball game late,” he said. “We just went over some things we needed to talk about. Whatever we got off our chest, we got off our chest.”

South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook was made aware of the meeting and was pleased with the way his team responded after struggling over the past two weeks.

“I think they made a pact with themselves,” he said. “I heard they had some team meeting last night. Who knows. Ask the guys about that. They keep that from the coaches. If they did and it worked, they can have all the team meetings they want.”

South Carolina baseball coach Chad Holbrook recaps the Gamecocks' 6-1 win in Game 3 over Mississippi State.

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