Matt Connolly

USC OF Alex Destino leaves game at Vanderbilt with injury

South Carolina left fielder Alex Destino left Friday night’s 4-0 win over Vanderbilt in the fifth inning after crashing into the wall in left field while running full speed.

With two outs in the inning, Vanderbilt third baseman Will Toffey drilled a ball to deep left. Destino sprinted toward the unpadded wall and made the grab on the run but paid the price.

He immediately fell to the ground and laid face first on the warning track for several minutes. Destino was eventually helped off the field by USC’s training staff but appeared wobbly.

“I was dead sprinting backwards, and with the field being turf I didn’t really know much of a warning track. I caught the ball and looked up and a big sheet of metal was right there,” Destino said. “Luckily I was able to get my head out of the way and take the brunt of the force to my body so that was good.”

According to USC, Destino suffered a possible sprained left shoulder and also has a bruised knee. It does not appear that he suffered a head injury or concussion. Destino was scheduled to be checked out by doctors on Saturday.

The catch kept Braden Webb’s no-hit bid alive at the time, but Webb allowed his first hit in the next inning on a double to left.

“We had something special going, and I knew he wasn’t going to be the one to let that up,” Webb said. “My hats off to him. ... That kid goes 110 percent, and just for me to look up and see him lay out for that ball and hit the wall was something special.”

It would obviously be a big blow to the Gamecocks’ offense if Destino misses extended time. However, he said after Friday’s game that he believes he will be back sooner rather than later.

“I feel fine, a little sore, just ready to see how I wake up tomorrow,” he said. “A few docs are going to look at me tomorrow and tell me what they think, but I feel fine right now.”

Carolina coach Chad Holbrook does not expect to have the slugger available for the series finale against the Commodores.

“He’s probably going to be really sore tomorrow, and I doubt we’ll have him tomorrow,” Holbrook said.

The sophomore went 2-for-2 with an RBI in two at bats Friday night to extend his hitting streak to 20 games. It is the longest hitting streak by a USC player since Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 22-game hitting streak in 2010.

For the season Destino is batting .360 with seven doubles, four home runs and 26 RBIs.

Sophomore Clark Scolamiero replaced Destino in Friday’s game, but Holbrook has options if Destino misses time.

Freshman TJ Hopkins started in the outfield Thursday night and went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Danny Blair has also started six games in the outfield this season.

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