Adam Hill pitched 5 1/3 solid innings, and South Carolina used a two-run fourth inning for a 2-0 victory over Charleston Southern on Sunday afternoon at Founders Park to complete the three-game sweep.
Hill allowed four hits with eight strikeouts, a walk and a hit batter in his first weekend start. The freshman from Anderson had started three midweek games before tossing limited pitches last Tuesday so he could move into the weekend rotation. He improved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.47
He said there wasn’t much difference between a midweek to a weekend start.
“The crowd was a little bigger, but other than that, it was the same game,” he said. “There was no difference really. Get ahead of hitters and throw strikes.”
Tyler Johnson and Josh Reagan both got out of a couple of jams to preserve the shutout.
Johnson faced a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the sixth and got a ground ball double play to end the threat.
Reagan recorded his sixth save by getting the final six outs. He faced a two-on, one-out situation after giving up back-to-back singles in the ninth. But he got two fly balls to center to end the game.
“Our pitching staff was terrific,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “They threw strikes, worked ahead with nine strikeouts against one walk today. I thought Adam was terrific. It was good to see Tyler throw well in a tight game. We have some depth.”
South Carolina (15-2) was stymied for most of the day by Charleston Southern pitchers Jon Piriz and Alex Ministeri, but it scratched across two runs in the fourth, and the pitching staff made it hold up.
Dom Thompson-Williams, who has reached base in all 17 games, started the rally in the fourth with a double. He moved to third on a fly out by LT Tolbert, and scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by T.J. Hopkins.
Sophomore Matt Williams, who was making his second career start and first this season, blasted his first career home run onto the concourse in right field for a 2-0 lead.
“It felt good,” Williams. “It put a smile on my face and all of the team. I’m just thankful for the opportunity coach gave. Hopefully, more will come in the future.”
Holbrook said some of the assistants have been on him to give Williams a chance.
“Matt has been swinging the bat very, very well in practice. He swung the bat well in January,” Holbrook said. “He’s got toughness about him and some confidence, so it was good to see him get a good swing on it.”
Charleston Southern falls to 8-8 on the season.
Star of the game: Hill continues to impress, even though he struggled in the fifth and sixth innings. Unless the first few weeks don’t go well against SEC competition, the right-hander has earned the opportunity to be the Sunday guy. He has 32 strikeouts and three walks in 19 1/3 innings.
Play of the game: USC was clinging to the 2-0 lead when Charleston Southern loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Tyler Johnson came on in relief and allowed a soft single to the first batter he faced to load the bases. But he got a ground ball to Williams that turned into a 4-6-3 double play.
Stat of the game: 1. South Carolina pitching has been stellar, and one of the reasons has been they aren’t issuing free passes. They walked one batter Sunday and five the entire weekend.
Rest needed: Holbrook said the team looked a little tired on Sunday. They’ve had two midweek games in three of the first four weeks of the season, plus they practiced twice a day last week when school was out for spring break. They will take Monday off before playing two more midweek games this week. They open SEC play next weekend against Arkansas.
Stellar defense: South Carolina has gotten spectacular defense. They’ve had six straight errorless games and eight-of-nine overall. Danny Blair lost one in the sun that was ruled a hit and Mooney had a tough play on a slow roller that was ruled a hit. But for the most part, the defense has aided the pitching staff.
What: South Carolina vs. USC Upstate
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Flour Field, Greenville
Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area