After mustering two hits with runners in scoring position Thursday, it didn’t take long for the Gamecocks to deliver a clutch hit in a scoring opportunity.
It took four batters as Matt Williams cranked a double into centerfield to drive in the first two runs of the game and give the Gamecocks a first-inning lead after not leading Thursday against Kansas State.
They rode that, along with Clarke Schmidt’s dominant outing plus a late go-ahead, RBI double from Alex Destino to a 4-3 victory over Wright State Friday night.
“It’s great getting out to an early lead, especially with Clarke,” Destino said. “With him on the mound, two runs or three runs are good.”
Destino and the Gamecocks (4-2) left only six runners on base, which was down from the 10 left on Thursday night.
He finished going 2-for-3 and was driven in on the Williams hit in the first inning.
Madison Stokes, who went 3-for-5 against Kansas State, continued his hot streak by going 2-for-4 with a double and blasted his first home run of the season, a solo shot to left field.
Destino, who has had struggles hitting off-speed pitches, said he and about 10 other guys were on the field before the game trying to hit backside curveballs during batting practice. Both of Destino’s hits came off curveballs.
“Anytime you see what you’ve been working on pay off, that’s just a great feeling,” Destino said.
The Gamecocks, who hit 2-for-10 last night with runners in scoring position, still struggled with runners in scoring position, hitting just .143 (1-for-7). They also hit 3-for-14 (.214) with runners on base. They did, however, have a hit in their only opportunity with a runner at third and less than two outs.
Stokes said it was nice to barrel a few balls up, especially on the home run, and see the team get a few timely hits.
“I love it,” he said. “We got great potential and we’re going to continue to swing it and work and get better and see where we can go from there.”
South Carolina continues its three-game series with Wright State Saturday with Wil Crowe throwing the first pitch at 4 p.m. The Gamecocks will try to build on it’s opportune hitting from Friday.
With the season just a week old, head coach Chad Holbrook isn’t worried about his team’s hitting just yet, but thinks there is still room to improve and become a great team.
“We’re still a little inconsistent. We did put some good swings on it,” Holbrook said. “It’s early. The season is a week old tonight. Let’s continue to improve. We have a chance to be a really darn good team. But we got to play the game the right way. Right now we’re making it a little difficult on us. I got a good team and I think when we put this thing together and playing at a high level and we’ll be tough to beat.”