What Mark Kingston said after USC win over Furman
A trip to Fluor Field was what South Carolina, and senior center fielder T.J. Hopkins, needed to get the offense back on track.
After being swept by Georgia in Columbia over the weekend, the Gamecocks beat Furman 12-7 on Tuesday at the home of the Greenville Drive.
Hopkins, who went 2-for-13 in the series against the Bulldogs, blasted two home runs in the same game for the second time in his career. He also went 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs while Brady Allen also drove in four runs and added two hits.
“I was seeing the ball well tonight,” said Hopkins, who also hit a homer at Fluor Field in a loss to Clemson on March 2. “It was one of those nights where the ball looks like a beach ball.”
A South Carolina squad that scored 10 runs on 17 hits in its first three SEC games erupted for 11 hits against the Paladins (5-13). The Gamecocks (15-6) took advantage of three Furman errors to score seven unearned runs.
“We needed to get back on track. We needed to get our mojo back,” South Carolina coach Mark Kingston said when asked what his message was to his hitters coming into this week. “We needed to have an approach that would work tonight but also moving forward. I thought they did a good job with it.”
Dylan Harley (1-1) picked up the first win of his career after tossing 3.2 innings in relief. The freshman, who started the first three weekends in the starting rotation, gave up one earned run on four hits in his third consecutive solid outing.
“Over the last few outings, my feel for (my fastball) has been through the roof,” Harley said. “Today I felt like I could throw a fastball by just about everybody.”
Kingston said it’s too early to talk about moving Harley back into the rotation, but he’s encouraged that Harley is getting comfortable in his current role.
Furman starting pitcher John M. Bertrand (1-2) allowed eight runs (three earned) on seven hits in defeat.
South Carolina starting pitcher Daniel Lloyd allowed a baserunner in all three frames he was involved in and was charged with an earned run after he left his second career start.
Lloyd, who was on a pitch count, walked three and struck out two of the 10 batters. The freshman was at 53 pitches and gone when Jabari Richards hit an RBI triple to right field off Harley for a 1-0 Furman lead.
In the fourth, Hopkins doubled to right field to tie the game 1-all with one out.
Luke Berryhill then slid a hard grounder past the first basemen and into right field that easily plated Hopkins to put the Gamecocks up 2-1.
The lead increased to 3-1 after Chris Cullen’s routine grounder to second turned into a throwing error that allowed Berryhill to score.
Allen, who has reached base in 18 consecutive games, then put the Gamecocks up 5-1 with a two-run single up the middle.
Hopkins put two more runs on the board when he blasted his seventh homer of the season 406 feet over the wall in left-center field for a 7-1 advantage in the fifth inning. In the seventh, Hopkins, who last went deep twice against The Citadel in 2017, hit his second homer of the night to put South Carolina up 9-2.
Furman racked up 13 hits and trailed by eight runs before scoring four in the ninth.
The Gamecocks, who needed three pitchers to get out of the final inning, return to action Friday at 6:30 p.m. when they begin a three-game SEC series at Tennessee.
“Our (pitching) depth needs to be better,” Kingston said. “When we score 12 runs we shouldn’t have to be sweating late in the game like that.”