Matt Connolly

Freshman pitcher Adam Hill dazzles as Gamecocks rout Missouri

South Carolina’s Adam Hill (15) pitches during the first inning against the Missouri Tigers.
South Carolina’s Adam Hill (15) pitches during the first inning against the Missouri Tigers.

South Carolina starter Adam Hill had perhaps the best outing of his young career Sunday afternoon at Founders Park, pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings as USC routed Missouri 9-2.

The freshman struck out eight and allowed four hits to improve to 6-0 on the year. He has been particularly tough to beat at home, going 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA. Hill has 38 strikeouts and four walks in 29 innings at Founders Park.

Hill said he has been working hard with pitching coach Jerry Meyers, and it paid off on Sunday.

“I don’t think it’s so much at home or on the road, I just think it’s my mechanics getting out of whack and me trying to stay within myself,” he said. “I was getting back to doing what I was doing at the beginning of the year, and I’m hoping to continue that.”

If he is able to continue to pitch as he did Sunday, it will be a big boost for a Gamecocks team that has two frontline starters in Clarke Schmidt and Braden Webb.

Hill hadn’t earned a win in his previous three starts, and was struggling with his command before rebounding on Sunday.

“That was one of his best outings in a while. When he commands his fastball, he’s going to be tough,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “His command wasn’t perfect today, but it was a lot better than it’s been in his last two or three starts.”

Hill had the longest outing of his career, pitching into the seventh inning while throwing 102 pitches. Twice in the first three innings, Missouri had two on with one out, but Hill worked out of trouble both times.

“I just tried to focus on making pitches,” he said. “I was trying to do the same thing I’d been doing and just fill the zone, and we were able to get out of it.”

Hill used mostly his fastball to get ahead of hitters early in the game, then mixed in off-speed pitches the next time through the order to keep the Tigers off-balance.

“I think to pitch in this league it’s really important to not be predictable and work all of your pitches,” he said. “You’ve got to throw them all for strikes if you’re going to be successful.”

Tough at home

Freshman Adam Hill has been a standout at Founders Park this season. A look at his numbers:

Record: 4-0

ERA: 2.79

Innings: 29

Strikeouts: 38

Walks: 4