TUSCALOOSA, Ala. | South Carolina struggled to get runners across the plate in game one of the series against Alabama. The team found it to be a little easier on Friday, defeating the Crimson Tide 6-3.
The game started much like Thursday’s, only this time in South Carolina’s favor. The Gamecocks’ Christian Walker hit a base-clearing double in the fifth inning to score Evan Marzilli and Scott Wingo. That helped the team pull ahead for the first time on Friday. It was also the first time South Carolina led in the series.
Walker ended the game 1-for-4 with three RBIs. His sacrifice fly in the seventh brought Marzilli in to give South Carolina a two-run edge at 3-1.
Walker said the team was not satisfied after Thursday.
“We felt like we had to come out with a little more energy,” he said.
Coach Ray Tanner said the early hit from Walker was a relief after his team’s offensive struggles Thursday.
“It was good to see with the way we had been hitting it,” he said. “We were off and running and Wingo got a good jump and scored easy on that.”
Marzilli led the team with three runs scored. He also batted 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
The win gives South Carolina (43-12, 21-8) a chance to clinch at least a share of the SEC East Division crown. Florida (40-15, 21-8) was trounced 14-1 by Kentucky, leaving the Gators, Gamecocks and Vanderbilt, which defeated Georgia 9-3, in a three-way tie for first.
Walker said the team likes to approach each game the same, but a win on Saturday would be worth a little more.
“It’s a good feeling that it’s up to us,” Walker said. “It’s nobody else’s job but ours. We’ve got to execute and get runs across and, hopefully, we’ll be happy tomorrow.”
Forrest Koumas picked up his sixth win. He pitched five innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. The freshman struck out five. Matt Price relieved John Taylor after the sixth inning to pick up his 14th save. Price struck out four batters in three innings.
“Koumas had thrown the ball pretty well but the leadoff man had reached in four of his five innings,” Tanner said. “J.T. was available and Matt Price was available. Koumas, in my mind, did his job. He got through the fifth and you got some veteran guys out there (with Taylor and Price).”
Alabama scored first when Jared Reaves came home on an Austen Smith double in the fourth inning. Reaves would score a run again in the eighth.Tanner said that the run support and how the team executed proved to be important in the last two innings.
“We scored 5 of the 6 runs with two outs tonight,” Tanner said. We did a great job in that situation.”
The coach added, “We needed every single one of them.”
Colby Holmes (5-2, 3.70 ERA) takes the mound for South Carolina in the finale at 1 p.m. Saturday. Jonathan Smart (4-1, 2.21 ERA) pitches for Alabama. The game is on TV on CSS, also on Time Warner Cable Channel 506 in the Columbia area.
The Georgia-Vanderbilt rubber match is at 2 p.m. Saturday. Kentucky and Florida settle their series at 4 p.m. Saturday (on SportSouth).