Forrest Koumas refused to let three nights in the hospital during the week keep him from doing his job on the weekend.
South Carolina’s freshman right-hander bounced back from a serious allergic reaction to pitch the Gamecocks past Kentucky 4-1 Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium to complete a sweep of the three-game SEC baseball series.
Third-ranked USC improves to 22-5 overall and 7-2 in the SEC, while the Wildcats, who were swept for the second consecutive weekend, fall to 15-14 and 2-7. The wins allowed the Gamecocks to remain tied with Vanderbilt and Florida for first place in the SEC East.
Koumas, who has a peanut allergy, had the reaction Monday night to a friend’s dish that contained peanut oil. He required immediate hospitalization and was not released until Thursday. The coaching staff wanted to make sure he was strong enough to take the mound before committing to him for a weekend start. But he showed them enough in a bullpen session to be sent out against the Wildcats.
The former Lugoff-Elgin High standout responded by throwing 6
1/3 shutout innings before giving way to John Taylor after 73 pitches. Koumas (3-0) allowed two hits, walked one, hit three and struck out three while lowering his ERA to 2.10.
“I was impressed with his outing,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “I know that he’s young and anxious and he was going to tell me that he could go. I didn’t expect anything less. But I got a little bit more than I thought he could give.”
Koumas wanted to take his turn in the rotation, especially after making his first start of the season against Florida last weekend, when he allowed one unearned run on two hits over six innings and got a no-decision in USC’s loss. Although he admitted his preparation for this start was different, he was happy with the results.
“I felt like my stamina was there,” Koumas said. “I actually felt like I was throwing harder when I came out than when I started. I felt great. The arm feels good.”
Although Tanner always has liked the youngster’s stuff, he didn’t believe the freshman would get these type of critical innings this early in the season. But injuries to Steven Neff and Tyler Webb and ineffectiveness by Adam Westmoreland opened the door for Koumas.
“He’s still learning, but he made some pitches,” Tanner said. “His slider is good. His fastball gets up there a little bit, and he’s starting to mix in his changeup pretty good. He’s one of those guys who understands Coach (Jerry) Meyers is going to help him get better, and he’s grown up a lot. We’re excited where he is.”
The Gamecocks needed to work out of bases-loaded jams in the final three innings, but the bullpen hung on. Taylor allowed an RBI single to Luke Maile in the eighth that cut the lead to 3-1, but he struck out pinch-hitter Thomas McCarthy to end the threat. When the senior right-hander put a pair of runners on in the ninth, left-hander Bryan Harper came on to walk one batter before striking out the final hitter to record his first save.
Tanner loved what he saw all weekend from his pitchers, who allowed a total of five runs in the three games.
“We continued to do a pretty good job on the mound and kept our team in position to win the games,” Tanner said. “I can’t say enough about what our pitching staff has done.”
The Gamecocks scored a pair of runs in the first inning off Kentucky left-hander Taylor Rogers, who allowed an RBI single to Christian Walker before getting a double-play ball that scored the other run.
Rogers (2-3) lasted into the seventh inning before USC added another run on Walker’s RBI groundout to score Peter Mooney, who reached on his third single of the day. Evan Marzilli added a run-scoring single in the eighth.Mooney knew the early runs were going to be crucial.
“Every time we go out there, we expect to win,” Mooney said. “We come out in the first inning and score two runs, and you have a positive mindset. You think our pitchers can hold up and win.”
Walker, who has a team-high 28 RBIs, was pleased the Gamecocks were able to secure their first conference sweep and win their third consecutive SEC series.
“It means a lot. Hopefully, it’s the first of many,” Walker said.
South Carolina continues it homestand Tuesday with a 7 p.m. game against USC Upstate. Right-hander Patrick Sullivan will start for the Gamecocks.
Ray Tanner postgame
Forrest Koumas postgame
Christian Walker postgame
Peter Mooney postgame
|Lucas Witt cf||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||1|
|Chad Wright lf||4||0||0||0||1||0||1||0||4|
|Taylor Black ss||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||2||0|
|Braden Kapteyn dh||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Mike Kaczmarek rf||3||0||0||0||1||2||3||0||1|
|J.T. Riddle 2b||4||0||1||0||1||1||2||1||4|
|Luke Maile 1b||4||0||1||1||0||2||6||1||0|
|Michael Williams 3b/c||3||0||2||0||1||0||2||2||0|
|T.J. Daugherty c||1||0||0||0||0||1||5||0||0|
|Thomas McCarthy ph/3b||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||3|
|Taylor Rogers p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Nick Kennedy p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Alex Phillips p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Walter Wijas p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||3||2||3||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||3||2|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||1||0||0||0||2||0||4||0||0|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||0||1||2||0||0||9||0||2|
|Adrian Morales 3b||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||2||2|
|Jake Williams lf||4||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||1|
|Robert Beary c||3||0||1||0||0||1||8||0||0|
|Evan Marzilli rf||4||0||1||1||0||2||2||0||1|
|Patrick Harrington dh||2||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0|
|Michael Roth ph||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Forrest Koumas p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Bryan Harper p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - T. Black(5); T. McCarthy(5); T. Rogers(1). DP - UK 1. LOB - UK 14; S. Carolina 8. 2B - M. Williams(6); Beary(4). HBP - L. Witt 2; B. Kapteyn 2; M. Kaczmarek; TJ Daugherty; Bradley Jr.. SH - T. Black(4); TJ Daugherty(2); Mooney(4); Beary(2). SB - T. Black(9).
|Taylor Rogers L,2-3||6.1||6||3||2||3||5||0||0||1||1||25||30||8||5||102|
|Forrest Koumas W,3-0||6.1||2||0||0||1||3||0||0||3||0||19||25||9||7||73|
|Bryan Harper S,1||0.1||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||0||0||12|
Win - Koumas (3-0). Loss - T. Rogers (2-3). Save - Harper (1). HBP - by Koumas (L. Witt); by T. Rogers (Bradley Jr.); by Koumas (M. Kaczmarek); by Koumas (TJ Daugherty); by Taylor (L. Witt); by Taylor (B. Kapteyn); by Taylor (B. Kapteyn). BK - Taylor(1). Pitches/strikes: T. Rogers 102/58; N. Kennedy 12/9; A. Phillips 1/1; W. Wijas 5/3; Koumas 73/42; Taylor 49/31; Harper 12/5.
Umpires - HP: Danny Everett 1B: Scott Erby 3B: David Savage
Start: 1:37 pm