South Carolina baseball’s lineup keeps putting up big numbers, while the Gamecocks’ pitching continues to search for consistency, as No. 22 USC fended off a late surge from The Citadel to win 10-9 on Tuesday.
Carolina (14-3) is averaging 7.8 runs per game and scored in double digits for the sixth time this season, but coach Mark Kingston’s bullpen surrendered nine runs and 12 hits against a 7-9 Citadel squad.
“Got out to an early start, and they battled, and we kinda went scoreless for a few innings. That’s baseball,” senior center fielder TJ Hopkins said. “I wasn’t nervous. ... This team is relentless and we just battle through all adversity.”
The Gamecocks got the vast majority of their offensive output in the first half of the game, scoring seven times in the first two innings.
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Hopkins, who hit a two-run double, and sophomore catcher Luke Berryhill, who had an RBI double and sacrifice fly, led the way while senior third baseman Jacob Olson added an RBI groundout and sophomore outfielder Andrew Eyster ripped a run-scoring single. The Gamecocks capped a five-run second inning with a wild pitch.
The Citadel cracked the scoreboard in the third with a pair of singles and a walk. Freshman starter Daniel Lloyd was pulled in the middle of the inning to keep him available for this weekend’s series.
Carolina padded its lead in the sixth — junior shortstop George Callil tripled then scored on another sacrifice fly from Berryhill, and a wild pitch scored another run.
The Bulldogs made things interesting, however, in bottom half of the frame. Sophomore John Gilreath loaded the bases with two singles and a walk, then let them get cleared with a double. An error by senior first baseman Chris Cullen allowed another run to score.
“I don’t think our pitchers competed very well in the middle of the game,” Kingston said. “ ... I want to see them throw more strikes, I want to see them get more outs, period. That wasn’t good enough.”
The Citadel chipped away in the seventh with a leadoff double and sacrifice fly off freshman Cam Tringali, then tallied three more runs in the eighth with three singles and a triple, making it 10-9.
What turned out to be the game-winning run for South Carolina came in the bottom of the eighth, as the Gamecocks used four walks to score without a hit. Senior Gage Hinson closed out the game for his first career save.
“I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been battling. And I’ve threw a little bit here recently and I feel like the coaches got some more faith in me,” Hinson said. “I’m glad I got in that situation. It means a lot.”
Next: South Carolina returns home to Founders Park this weekend to open its SEC schedule, hosting No. 8 Georgia at 7 pm Friday, 4 pm Saturday and 1:30 pm Sunday. All three games will be streamed via SEC Network Plus and the WatchESPN app.
South Carolina swept Bryant in a doubleheader on Wednesday, 7-0 and 10-2. Karly Heath (6-0) and Kelsey Oh (2-2) got the wins in the circle. Heath added a home run and four RBIs across the two games. Mackenzie Boesel drove in six runs in the second game.
The Gamecocks (20-5) play at Arkansas in a three-game series that begins Friday night.