South Carolina outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams didn't play it off as a small change.
Early in the season, he was leading off. Of late he's moved down to the five-hole. If his performance in Friday's 9-0 win against Charleston Southern was any indication, he likes it down there.
“Honestly, I’m a lot more comfortable being back in the order and not being the first guy up,” Thompson-Williams said. “I didn’t think I could get more hits being in the fifth hole, but I have and I’m settling in pretty will.”
The team's high-profile offseason addition smashed his third home run of the season to plate two in the fifth inning and drove in two in the third on a line double. His four RBIs were a season-high and aided a South Carolina (13-2) team that took advantages of numerous Buccaneers miscues.
Across the second and third innings, Charleston Southern (8-6) had a dropped deep fly ball, a sailed throw from third and later and a short toss from the second baseman that pulled a fielder off the bag. South Carolina pushed through five runs, four unearned, during the stretch.
All told, five of the team's nine runs were unearned against a CSU squad that came in on a five-game winning streak.
“Offensively, I think we were about as good as we’ve been all year,” South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “From an approach standpoint to making adjustments within the at-bat.
“We put pressure on them and they probably didn’t play their best game.”
Star of the game: Thompson-Williams went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs. It was his third home run of the season and his best RBI output of the year.
Play of the game: In the bottom of the third, South Carolina’s Alex Destino hit a grounder to second that probably should have been turned for a double play. Instead, an error set the stage for a three-run inning to blow the game open.
Stat of the game: Nine strikeouts from ace Clarke Schmidt, tying in a career-high. He needed 88 pitches to go 7 1/3 innings, allowing only four hits. His ERA for the season is now 0.33.
Nice touch: There was a moment of silence before the game for the Emanuel Nine, which included Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, mother of Charleston Southern outfielder Chris Singleton. The Buccaneers sophomore got a small ovation his first at-bat and went 0-for-3.
“What that young man has been through and the way that he’s handled it has been an inspiration for me, for everyone in this state,” Holbrook said.
In command: Schmidt set the tone early, striking out five of the first six batters he faced and retiring the first eight. He didn’t wear much as the game went on, hitting 92 miles an hour in the sixth, as fast or faster than he’d been at the start.
Touched up: CSU pitcher Evan Raynor came into Friday’s game with a season line very similar to Schmidt’s and had Holbrook expecting a low-scoring game. Raynor put nine baserunners on in five innings and couldn’t match the Gamecocks’ top hurler.
What: South Carolina vs. Charleston Southern, Game 2
When: 4 p.m. Saturday, March. 12
Where: Founders Park
Probable pitchers: USC – Braden Webb (Fr. RHP); Charleston Southern – Daniel Johnson (So. LHP)
Watch: SEC Network Plus (Digital)
Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area