After its recent troubles in midweek games, the South Carolina baseball team picked up a much-needed victory Wednesday night at Carolina Stadium.
The Gamecocks (28-21) defeated Wofford 5-3 to snap a two-game losing streak against in-state foes in the middle of the week. They lost to Furman on April 21 and Presbyterian on April 14. Earlier in the season, they dropped midweek contests to Winthrop and Coastal Carolina.
“It was a good win considering what we’ve been through, especially against a really good Wofford team,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said.
Wofford, which defeated Clemson on Tuesday night to set a school record for wins in a single season, fell to 33-17. The Gamecocks travel to No. 3 Texas A&M for a three-game SEC series that starts Friday at 7:35 p.m.
“It was good to see the bats come alive today in the early part of the game,” USC freshman designated hitter Alex Destino said. “It was good to see the pitchers back out there confident against a real good team in Wofford. It’s a good feeling having this win under our belt heading to A&M.”
Destino led the nine-hit attack with three hits, including RBI singles in the three-run first inning and the two-run third inning, to raise his average to .254.
“Alex has been a little bit inconsistent,” Holbrook said. “He got off to a great start and then he put a little too much pressure on himself and scuffled a little bit. It was good to see him swing the bat tonight. He can make us so much more of an offensive-type team.”
Kyle Martin also had an RBI single in the first, while Elliott Caldwell added a pair of hits. But the Gamecocks went scoreless over the final five innings, which frustrated Holbrook to a degree.
“I was kind of disappointed in the way we played after the first three innings. We were very fortunate to hold on,” he said. “I thought we pitched extremely well, and that gave us an opportunity to win. I still would like our guys to play with a little bit more juice and intensity and compete a little bit more.”
Freshman right-hander Brandon Murray (5-0) gave up one run on two hits in three innings of relief to get the victory. Sophomore right-hander Reed Scott got the final four outs for his first save.
“We made it hold up. I thought Brandon was very good and Reed was terrific,” Holbrook said. “That’s several good appearances in a row for Reed. He’s much more consistent than he was earlier in the year.”
The sloppy game featured five errors, two by the Terriers that led to a pair of unearned runs. Wofford also missed a prime opportunity in the fifth inning after a pair of singles and an errant pickoff throw put runners on second and third with no outs. But USC starter Josh Reagan and Murray combined on two strikeouts and a popup to escape the jam.
Holbrook called it the biggest moment in the game, as did his counterpart in the Wofford dugout.
“We’re typically successful when we play plus defense and we execute,” Wofford coach Todd Interdonato said. “We did not play plus defense in the third, and we did not execute when we had a chance with (runners on) second and third (in the fifth) and nobody out, and we don’t push one right there. That was a big swing.”
Wofford’s Conor Clancey blasted his ninth home run of the season in the second inning off Reagan. Clancey also doubled and scored in the fourth. Murray came in and slowed that momentum.
“I tried to establish strikes early and get ahead of hitters so I don’t have to come out and pitch from behind,” Murray said. “I wanted to keep it simple and give us a chance to stay in the game.”