USC Gamecocks Baseball

Braden Webb, Gamecocks tie series vs. Vanderbilt with 4-0 win

Chad Holbrook postgame remarks after Game 2 win over Vanderbilt

Gamecocks coach says freshman Braden Webb was 'big league good'
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Gamecocks coach says freshman Braden Webb was 'big league good'

South Carolina freshman Braden Webb earned SEC and national honors for his performance last week at Ole Miss. He is in line for more accolades after his outing Friday night at Vanderbilt.

The freshman dominated the third-ranked Commodores for eight innings, allowing two hits and striking out 11 to lead No. 5 USC (24-4, 7-1) to a 4-0 victory.

The win evens the series at one game each. The teams will meet at 3 p.m. Saturday in the series finale.

“I just really felt like this whole night we had a chip on our shoulder,” Webb said. “We came out tonight ready to rock and roll. ... I had to do whatever I could to give my team the best possible chance to win the game.”

Webb faced the minimum through 5 2/3 innings and did not allow a hit until giving up a two-out double to Tyler Campbell in the bottom of the sixth.

He improved to 6-1 on the year and dropped his ERA to 1.70.

Webb’s fastball touched 96 mph, and his off-speed pitches were sharp as he kept the Commodores (22-5, 5-3) off balance all night.

“He was big league good. That’s two starts in a row he’s been really special,” Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “You have to have it all going to put up numbers like that against a team like Vanderbilt. ... It was really, really neat to watch.”

South Carolina got on the board in the third inning as the Gamecocks loaded the bases with no outs after Marcus Mooney and Gene Cone hit infield singles and LT Tolbert was hit by a pitch.

John Jones followed with a sac fly to score Mooney and Destino singled to center to score Cone and give USC an early lead.

Destino went 2-for-2 with an RBI to extend his hitting streak to 20 games before leaving in the fifth after crashing into the wall. He suffered a possible strained left shoulder and bruised knee, and Holbrook said he will likely miss Saturday’s series finale.

The Gamecocks added two insurances runs in the ninth inning on a two-RBI triple by LT Tolbert.

USC closer Josh Reagan relieved Webb in the ninth inning and retired Vanderbilt in order to end the game.

Freshman pitches 8 shutout innings and strikes out 11

THREE POINTS

Star of the game: Braden Webb was untouchable for the majority of Friday night’s outing. The Commodores never got a runner past second as the freshman had his fastball, changeup and curveball working.

Play of the game: Vanderbilt had only its second base runner of the game reach to lead off the sixth inning as Ethan Paul walked. But he was retired moments later on a double play as Webb struck out Kyle Smith and Chris Cullen caught Paul stealing. The next batter doubled but Webb kept Vandy off the board thanks to the double play.

Stat of the game: 06/02/13: Led by Webb, USC gave Vanderbilt its first shutout loss at home since June 2, 2013, when the Commodores fell 5-0 to Georgia Tech in an NCAA Regional game.

OBSERVATIONS

USC has a pair of aces: Clarke Schmidt and Braden Webb look like two of the top pitchers in the SEC through seven starts each. The righties are a combined 12-2 with Webb sporting a 1.70 ERA and Schmidt right behind him at 1.80.

Cullen excels defensively: Holbrook has bragged on catcher Chris Cullen’s defense since before the season, but he had his share of struggles early on. The freshman played his best defensive game of the year Friday night, throwing out both Vandy runners that attempted to steal and hauling in Webb’s off-speed pitches that were moving all over the place.

Destino shows toughness: It was hard to tell that the sophomore had just rammed into a wall running full speed an hour earlier when he met with the media after the game. Destino admitted to being sore but said his head felt fine.

South Carolina OF describes crashing into left field wall

NEXT

What: South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt, Game 3

When: 3 p.m. Saturday, April 2

Where: Nashville, Tenn.

Probable pitchers: USC – Adam Hill (Fr. RHP); Vandy – TBA

Watch: SEC Network

Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area

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