Patrick Sullivan mostly was known last year as one of the players in charge of the “Avatar” Spirit Stick the South Carolina baseball team adopted as its good-luck charm during the postseason. As a result, he received plenty of TV time in the dugout during the Gamecocks’ march to the national championship.
Tuesday, it was Sullivan’s turn to step into the spotlight on the field. The former A.C. Flora standout made his first career start and gave up one run on two hits in five innings as No. 3 USC routed USC Upstate 18-2 at Carolina Stadium.
“I was very happy for him,” Tanner said. “Here’s a young man that is a local product that’s been in the program for a while. He’s worked extremely hard (and) been a consumate team guy. Probably deserved some opportunities a lot earlier than today but never complained about lack of appearances or opportunities. He waited patiently and looked good out there.”
The sophomore right-hander allowed a run in the second inning on a walk and consecutive singles but settled down to retire the final 10 batters he faced. He earned his first career victory and finished with a career-high six strikeouts and two walks.
“It was a great opportunity,” Sullivan said. “I was glad to finally get out there. I threw good but got behind a lot of hitters. I probably could have thrown a lot more strikes. It was a good experience and, hopefully, I’ll get another chance.”
Sullivan entered the game having made 10 career relief appearances. He threw 79 pitches before giving way to former A.C. Flora teammate Logan Munson, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings.
“That was actually the calmest I’ve ever been before a game,” Sullivan said. “All the guys gave me a bunch of (grief) to try to rile me up. We have a tremendous staff, and I’m going to fill whatever roles the coaches want me to. (But) hopefully I will get more innings.”
The Gamecocks’ offense didn’t miss a beat, even without Jackie Bradley in the lineup for the first time since March 17 of last year.
Bradley injured his back during a weightlifting session Monday and was being evaluated by a doctor after the game. Tanner did not have any updates during his postgame comments.
“I guess he’s day-to-day,” Tanner said “I’m semi-optimistic, but, with that being said, I don’t know if he’s going to be shut down or whether he’s be able to play or not,” Tanner said. “I don’t know.”
Bradley took pregame batting practice, but when he went to jog to the outfield, his back tightended up and he decided to sit out the game.
Scott Wingo hit his third home run of the season to give USC (23-5) a 2-0 lead two batters into the game. The carnage continued against four USC Upstate pitchers.
The Gamecocks collected 20 hits, and every starter had at least one. All but one starter had an RBI, and all but one scored a run.
Christian Walker led the hit parade with a career-high five and tied his career high with five RBIs, including a towering grand slam into the left-field bleachers in the seventh inning. Walker is tied with Bradley for the team lead with six home runs, and he leads with 33 RBIs.
“It’s really hard to try and take Jackie’s place, but we have enough guys to fill in and play their roles,” Walker said.
Ray Tanner postgame
Patrick Sullivan, Christian Walker postgame
|GREEN, Blake cf||4||1||1||0||0||0||4||0||2|
|RICHARDSON, Trey 3b||4||0||2||0||0||1||1||0||0|
|LIPUT, Austin 2b||3||0||1||1||1||0||2||1||0|
|WEBER, Luke c||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||0||1|
|WAY, Dillon 1b||4||0||0||0||0||1||9||0||2|
|COOK, Tyler rf||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||0||0|
|VACCA, Anthony dh||2||1||0||0||2||0||0||0||0|
|WIGGINS, Grason ss||3||0||1||0||0||2||1||2||0|
|FAUST, Christian ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|MILLER, Tyler lf||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||0||2|
|DeCECCO, Scott p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|KNAUFF, Chris p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|FERN, Ryan p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|WALLER, Jake p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||2||2||1||2||1||0||1||2|
|Will Casey p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||3||4||1||2||2||0||3||3||3|
|Christian Walker 1b||6||4||5||5||0||0||6||0||1|
|Adrian Morales 3b||3||2||2||1||1||0||1||2||0|
|Erik Payne ph/lf||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jake Williams lf||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||0||2|
|Jake Watson ph/3b||2||0||1||2||0||0||0||0||0|
|Brady Thomas c||4||1||2||2||0||0||7||0||0|
|DeSean Anderson ph/rf||1||1||0||0||1||1||2||0||0|
|Robert Beary rf/c||6||1||2||0||0||0||1||0||1|
|Evan Marzilli cf||5||1||2||1||1||0||5||0||2|
|Greg Brodzinski dh/c||4||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Patrick Sullivan p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Logan Munson p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Adam Westmoreland p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
DP - S. Carolina 1. LOB - UPST 7; S. Carolina 11. 2B - Mooney(7); Walker(10); Morales(10); Payne(1); Watson(1). HR - Wingo(3); Walker(6). HBP - Wingo; Brodzinski. SB - Marzilli(3).
|DeCECCO, Scott L,3-3||0.1||5||5||5||2||0||1||0||0||0||6||8||0||1||28|
|Patrick Sullivan W,1-0||5.0||2||1||1||2||6||0||0||0||0||17||19||6||3||79|
Win - Sullivan (1-0). Loss - DeCECCO (3-3). Save - None. WP - DeCECCO(3); KNAUFF 2(4); FERN(10). HBP - by KNAUFF (Wingo); by FERN (Brodzinski). Pitches/strikes: DeCECCO 28/12; KNAUFF 78/45; FERN 14/2; WALLER 42/25; Sullivan 79/48; Munson 32/20; Westmoreland 17/10; Casey 12/7.
Umpires - HP: Joe Marion 1B: Mike Guerry 3B: Barry Chambers
Start: 7:01 pm
FERN faced 3 batters in the 7th.