Chad Holbrook speaks after USC matches 2015 win total
South Carolina matched its overall and SEC win totals from one season ago with a 5-1 victory over Missouri on Saturday afternoon at Founders Park.
The win clinches the series for the Gamecocks and improves USC to 32-8 (13-4). South Carolina finished the 2015 season 32-25 (13-17).
South Carolina is also 24-1 at Founders Park, including a perfect 8-0 in the SEC. The Gamecocks have won three straight games after going 1-3 last week.
“It’s been a fun 40 games because they’ve bounced back from adversity the right way. They’ve competed, and we’ve won our fair share,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “Hopefully, we can continue to improve and make it a great year.”
Gene Cone went 2-for-3 and extended his hitting streak to 26 games, which ties the school record.
Cone can break Whit Merrifield’s record with a hit in Sunday’s series finale.
“I got a text from Whit Merrifield last night that asked if I could put on the sac bunt a few times,” Holbrook joked.
USC built an early 2-0 lead on a two-run single to right by Alex Destino in the first inning and never looked back as Braden Webb improved to 8-2, holding the Tigers to one run in 5 2/3 innings of work.
Webb allowed six walks, but struck out 10 batters, rebounding from his worst outing of the season last weekend at Georgia.
“It was another great outing for him, especially after his last start against Georgia when he wasn’t his best,” Holbrook said.
Carolina closer Josh Reagan, who also struggled last weekend against the Bulldogs, didn’t allow a hit in 2 1/3 innings to earn his 11th save of the year.
Destino went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, while Jonah Bride finished 3-for-4 with a run.
The Gamecocks scored three runs – two earned – and had six hits off Missouri starter Tanner Houck, who is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft by Baseball America and Perfect Game.
South Carolina can finish the sweep Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at Founders Park.
Star of the game: Cone: The junior extended his hitting streak to 26 games with a single in the bottom of the first, tying a school record. He finished 2-for-3 with two runs and a walk.
Play of the game: Destino, who has been getting better defensively in left field, made a diving catch with one out in the second. The sophomore said he’s been working hard in batting practice to get good reads on the ball and it is paying off.
Stat of the game: .187: Opponents entered Saturday’s game hitting .187 off Missouri starter Tanner Houck, but USC’s first five hitters opened the game 4-for-4 with a hit by pitch as the Gamecocks took an early lead.
Destino comes up clutch: South Carolina led 3-1 in the seventh inning when Destino singled to right to push the lead to 5-1. He also came up big in the first inning with a two-run single with the bases loaded.
Bride heating up: The third baseman has had some tough luck at times this year, but recorded three hits for the second straight game on Saturday. He made his first appearance in the postgame media room and was joined by many of his teammates, who wanted to see him speak to the media for the first time after a game.
Holbrook loves this team: South Carolina’s coach mentioned several times that he has a great group of players and a great locker room.
What: South Carolina vs. Missouri
When: 1:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Founders Park
Probable pitchers: USC – Adam Hill (Fr. RHP); Missouri – Michael Plassmeyer (Fr. LHP)
Watch: SEC Network Plus (Digital)
Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area