Two runs in the top of the first inning proved to be enough for South Carolina on Thursday night as the Gamecocks downed Ole Miss 5-1 in the first game of a three-game SEC series.
After Rebel ace Brady Bramlett walked Gene Cone and LT Tolbert, Alex Destino and Jonah Bride came through with base hits to give the Gamecocks the lead.
USC starter Clarke Schmidt got the best of the Rebel hitters as he managed a three up, three down bottom of the first. Then in the top of the second inning, South Carolina added to its total with a solo home run over the right field wall by Cone.
“Gene had a great night,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “He got the game started on the right note, hit a home run, had three hits. He set the tone for us.”
With Schmidt pitching well and his team leading 3-0, the Gamecocks (21-2, 4-0 SEC) were in excellent shape, even early in this one.
Schmidt (6-0) went six and two-thirds innings, allowing one run on nine hits with eight strikeouts and a walk.
“Clarke gutted it out, pitched well,” Holbrook said. “They got 11 hits and only one run. We escaped some innings, they hits some balls on the nose that were caught. He has some toughness about him. He is just a great competitor. He bowed his neck in some big situations when they had some runners on base.”
The first hit for the Rebels (20-3, 2-2 SEC) came in the bottom of the second, a one-out single by second baseman Tate Blackman. Catcher Henri Lartigue followed with a single to put runners at first and second. But the Rebel threat ended there.
In the fifth inning it was a Dom Thompson-Williams RBI single that increased the Gamecock lead to 4-1 and chased Bramlett from the contest.
Back-to-back doubles in the eighth by Bride and Chris Cullen gave USC more cushion and a 5-1 advantage heading into the Rebel ninth.
Bramlett (4-1) took his first loss of the season. Josh Reagan got his seventh save for the Gamecocks.
What: South Carolina vs. Ole Miss, Game 2
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Swayze Field, Oxford, Miss.
Probable pitchers: USC, Braden Webb (Fr. RHP 4-1, 1.71 ERA, 26 1/3 IP, 17 BB, 28 Ks) vs. OM, Chad Smith (Jr. RHP 2-1, 3.91 ERA, 25 1/3 IP, 13 BB, 22 Ks)
Watch: SEC Network Plus (Digital)
Radio: 1320 AM in the Columbia area