Offense comes alive in blowout win
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS BASEBALL
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.—If Tuesday's performance in South Carolina's inaugural game at SRP Park is any indication, the Gamecocks may want to schedule more neutral site games there moving forward.
South Carolina's offense came alive in Tuesday's midweek game, cruising to an easy 10-3 victory over Charleston Southern.
The Gamecocks (24-17, 5-13 SEC) are now 19-4 in non-conference games and 9-2 in midweek games. They haven't lost one since March 26 against NC A&T, a stretch of four midweek games.
“I think it was a good night for a lot of reasons. I’m glad we won; we had a good opponent to play," Gamecock head coach Mark Kingston said. "I think the crowd was a good crowd, and it’s something we’ll definitely be interested in continuing.”
After putting up just eight runs on 15 hits in 23 innings against Texas A&M, the Gamecocks scratched across two more runs and had almost as many hits (12) in nine innings Tuesday night.
Seven of the team's nine position players picked up at least one hit with four—Noah Campbell, Luke Berryhill, Andrew Eyster and Brady Allen—each having multi-hit days.
Of the Gamecocks' 12 hits, five went for extra bases.
After putting up two runs in the first inning off a Campbell solo shot and Jacob Olson RBI single, they'd tag the Bucs for six runs in the second inning, headlined by a Berryhill three-run shot.
“That was as good as he’s looked in a while, no question about it," Kingston said of Campbell. "He’s worked hard, he’s fought things and he’s trying to make adjustments to be in a consistent place. Tonight was one of the better nights he’s had in a long time.”
After going 1-for-7 last week, Campbell finished his day tying his career-high with three hits, including blasting his fifth homer of the year and first in 14 games.
“I feel like I’ve had a little bit of bad luck mixed with some struggles, but tonight I feel was a good turning point for me," he said.
Josiah Sightler, making his first start since opening weekend (Feb. 17), picked up his first career hit, hitting the second of back-to-back triples, roping one off the wall to drive in Allen.
The freshman entered Tuesday's game hitless in 12 at-bats and finished 1-for-3 against the Bucs.
“It’s been very frustrating. It’s something I’ve never been through before," Sightler said. "Coach told me I was in the lineup I said, ‘OK, it’s time for me to take advantage of it.’ I feel like I did. It’s about persevering and putting in the work and I feel like I have been.”
Allen had arguably his best night in a while, going 2-for-3 with two triples, becoming the first Gamecock since Lonnie Chisenhall in 2007 to have two triples in a game.
Daniel Lloyd got his team off to a good start, pitching maybe the best he has this season, striking out seven over 3.2 innings and scattering just four hits.
He'd give up three runs, only one earned, with two runs coming off an Olson throwing error as part of a three-run fourth for Charleston Southern. Tuesday was his longest start since going five innings March 29.
“He was good; he had seven strikeouts, one or two walks I think, which is a good sign. Still, I want to see someone like that go five, go six," Kingston said. "Having to come out when he did is still not where he needs to be. Talent-wise he’s making progress but I’d like to see someone go out there and give us five or six good innings.”
The Gamecock bullpen did its job after that, not allowing a run in 4.1 one-hit innings and striking out seven.
Sawyer Bridges had arguably his best night out of the bullpen, going 2.1 scoreless innings and striking out four of the nine batters he faced.
“Now it’s a matter of can he throw twice in a week. That’s the key: can he do that again this weekend in SEC play? If he can, that helps us," Kingston said. "We’ve been a couple innings short most weekends with getting a couple more outs we need. If he’s able to do that, that helps us.”
Player of the game: After scuffling some last week, Noah Campbell went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. He also hit his first home run since March 29.
Key moment: After Lloyd left the game, Dylan Harley walked the bases loaded with two outs and Sawyer Bridges came in to clean up the mess. He did, getting a fly out to center to end the threat.
Up next: South Carolina hits the road again for its third away SEC series of the month, going to Missouri for a three-game series starting Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.