Hopkins, DTW shine as Gamecocks blowout Furman
GREENVILLE—South Carolina was looking for offensive output after only mustering 10 runs last week over four games. They found it in the form of 14 runs on 18 hits as they walloped Furman 14-4 at Flour Field Wednesday.
The Gamecocks (30-8, 11-4 SEC) were outscored 34-10 last weekend and dropped their series against Georgia. Then Wednesday, they came out of the gate firing, scoring five runs in the first four innings and posting a five-run inning in the seventh frame.
Eight of the nine starters had a hit and seven had RBI.
“We definitely needed this type of offensive game after the past week or so,” shortstop Marcus Mooney said. “We got it together one through nine and it made everyone happier in the dugout and hopefully it continues this weekend.”
Head Coach Chad Holbrook shuffled the lineup, giving Matt Williams his first start of his career at first base and TJ Hopkins his first in centerfield.
It paid off as Hopkins led the charge offensively batting second in the order. The freshman went 4-for-5 with a walk and two RBI. He also scored three times. The four hits were a career-high and the three runs tied a career high.
“It was very nice,” he said. “I was seeing the ball really well today and felt like I was putting really good swings on it. So it was a really good day.”
Holbrook was incredibly impressed with Hopkins, saying he looked like an All-American playing center.
““He was incredible tonight. He’s a phenomenal athlete, and he’s a difference maker in a lot of ways. When he puts the ball in play, it’s impressive to watch him play,” he said. “I don’t want to put pressure on him saying he’s a first-round draft pick, but he has the potential to be a high draft pick and play this game a long time.”
The other big offensive weapon was Dom Thompson-Williams who broke himself out of a rut going 4-for-4 with 3 RBI with a run scored. He tied the school record with three doubles in a game and could have set the record but tripled in the seventh inning.
After the game, the junior said he would have made the decision over again.
“I didn’t realize it was a school record; I just found out early,” he said. “I wouldn’t take that back, I’d still take third.”
The Gamecocks fell behind early on a Mooney throwing error before putting up five unanswered runs in the second, third and fourth innings. Things would get interesting in the bottom of the fifth when Taylor Widener gave up two runs and had the tying run on base.
Widener would exit then and give way for Reed Scott who came in and got a bases-loaded strikeout to end the inning.
“Reed make a big pitch and got the punch-out,” Holbrook said. “Then we played pretty well offensively the rest of the way.”
Pretty well is an understatement as South Carolina would go on to outscore the Paladins 9-1 in the final four innings.
The offensive explosion was a breath of fresh air for a team trying to get back to the offensive juggernaut they were to start the season.
Holbrook said it was partly due to the team’s practice yesterday and batting practice before the game Wednesday, and he said the team got back to playing typical South Carolina baseball.
“South Carolina has always been about being aggressive, taking hacks and not being passive; not shying away from any competition,” he said. “And in the batter’s box tonight we swung the bat like we’re capable of.”
The Gamecocks return home for a three-game series against Missouri. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Founders Park. And Thompson-Williams is hopeful this kind of offensive prowess transfers over to this weekend against the Tigers.
“Hopefully it translates 100 percent effectively,” he said. “But it’s baseball, you never know; you just have to be happy with how you performed that day. I’m still going to be in the cage tomorrow, I’m still going to hit tomorrow and work.”
Line Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9-----R H E
South Carolina: 0 2 1 2 0 3 5 1 0 14 18 1
Furman: 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 4 8 2
South Carolina: RF, Gene Cone; CF, TJ Hopkins; C, John Jones; DH, Alex Destino; LF, Dom Thompson-Williams; 3B, Jonah Bride; 2B, LT Tolbert; 1B, Matt Williams; SS, Marcus Mooney; SP, Taylor Widener
Furman: LF, Carter Grote; 2B, Sims Griffith; 3B, Jake Crawford; CF, Sky Overton; RF, Landon Kay; DH, Griffin Davis; 1B, Deon Sanders; C, Andrew MacLatchie; SS, Matt Towarnicky; SP, Matthew Quarles
Taylor Widener: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 7 K
Reed Scott: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Colie Bowers: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R (ER), 0 BB, 0 K
Brandon Murray: .2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Matt Vogel: .1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
Matthew Quarles: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K
Harry Norman: 2 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 0 K
Roy Griffith: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 0 K
Eric Taylor: 1.0, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 0 K
Steven Fondu: .2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K
Will Dvorak: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K