Chad Holbrook speaks after USC pounds Furman
South Carolina busted out of its offensive slump in a big way Wednesday night, pounding out 18 hits in a 14-4 win over Furman at Fluor Field.
The Gamecocks managed 10 runs in four games last week but reached that mark by the seventh inning against the Paladins.
“It was a good night for us. Obviously we swung the bats pretty well. It was a good night to hit, and I think hopefully tonight will do a lot for our guys’ confidence from an offensive standpoint,” Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “We worked hard yesterday in practice, worked hard today in BP, changed our mindset a little bit offensively and showed a little bit in the batter’s box tonight and that was good to see.”
No. 12 USC scored in six of the nine innings, with the biggest blow being a five-run seventh. Nine different players recorded hits for the Gamecocks.
Freshman TJ Hopkins, who had 17 starts entering Wednesday night, started in center field and had his best game of his young career.
Hopkins batted second and recorded a career-high four hits, finishing 4-for-5 with a double, three runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases. He raised his average nearly .40 points.
“He was incredible tonight. That was impressive,” Holbrook said. “He’s a phenomenal athlete, and he’s a difference maker in a lot of ways.”
Junior Dom Thompson-Williams, who had been in a slump the past several weeks, went 4-for-4 with three doubles and a triple. Thompson-Williams scored a run, had three RBIs, walked and could have set the school record for doubles in a game had he not stretched a double into a triple in the seventh inning.
“Finding the barrel is what I did tonight. I found the barrel a couple of times and got some positive results out of it,” Thompson-Williams said. “I didn’t really try to change anything up.”
John Jones, who has also been slumping as of late, went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.
The offensive explosion was much needed for South Carolina as the Gamecocks hit .212 in four games last week before going 18–for-43 (.419) at the plate against Furman.
Reed Scott earned the win for USC, pitching 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Taylor Widener started for South Carolina and pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, two earned before leaving with two on in the fifth. Widener tied a career high with seven strikeouts before exiting the game.
Star of the game: Dom Thompson-Williams: The junior had his best game in a Gamecocks uniform, going 4-for-4 with a run, three RBIs and four extra-base hits. The four hits is a career high, and the three doubles ties a school record.
Play of the game: South Carolina led 5-3 in the fifth inning and Furman had the bases loaded when Reed Scott recorded a strikeout to preserve the lead.
Stat of the game: 14: The 14 runs match what South Carolina had scored in its previous five games combined entering Wednesday night.
Offensive explosion needed: Furman’s pitching staff is not SEC level, but the Gamecocks will still feel good about themselves heading into the weekend after pounding the Paladins on Wednesday.
Hopkins’ speed a difference maker: The freshman knows how to use his speed, whether he is turning a single into a double, beating out a slow roller or stealing a base. He also is impressive tracking down fly balls in the outfield.
USC fortunate Mooney is OK: Carolina got a scare in the fourth inning when starting shortstop Marcus Mooney dove back to first base and immediately started rolling around in pain. Mooney aggravated a hip pointer, which forced him to sit out a game this past weekend against Georgia. The senior stayed in the game and finished 3-for-3 with three runs and three RBIs.
What: South Carolina vs. Missouri
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Founders Park
Probable pitchers: USC – Clarke Schmidt (So. RHP); Missouri – Reggie McClain (Sr. RHP)
Watch: SEC Network Plus (Digital)
Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area