Clarke Schmidt dazzles in 3-1 victory
After being blown out by North Carolina Wednesday, the Gamecocks were in search of some kind of spark to get the team back on track.
Enter Clarke Schmidt.
The sophomore dominated the Georgia lineup time and time again, pitching his second complete game of the season as the No. 8 Gamecocks went wire-to-wire to beat the Bulldogs 3-1 Friday.
After the game he said he “100 percent” wanted the ball after Wednesday’s lopsided loss.
“When you lose a tough game like that, it hurts a little bit; it hurts in your side a little bit,” he said. “It makes you pitch with that little chip on your shoulder. And we played with a chip on our shoulder.”
Schmidt started off hot, hitting 96 miles per hour on the radar gun in the first inning. He would eventually strike out two batters in the first frame before going on to strike out five of the first 11 batters he faced.
He would finish with 10 strikeouts, which are the most he’s had this season and tied a career-high.
“I have a pretty sharp breaking ball and a lot of life in my fastball, so strikeouts will come,” he said. “You just got to throw the pitches and make pitches when you need to. When you’re in fastball counts, it helps. But when you have an infield like that—Mooney and DC—that’s unbelievable.”
The only mistake the righty had came in the fourth inning when he hung a pitch over the plate and Daniel Nichols golfed the pitched into right for a solo home run. The shot bounced off the top of the backboard.
It got dicey though with two outs as Jerry Meyers visited Schmidt in the ninth and Nichols coming to the plate as the tying run.
“I was praying he wouldn’t take me out and I think he saw that in me. He saw I wanted that guy. I know early in the game he put a good swing on my ball and I’m not going to just let that go by,” he said. “I want to go out there and get that guy.”
He got him and Nichols grounded out to clinch the complete game.
Schmidt’s catcher Chris Cullen gave the pitcher some run support in the second inning with a RBI single. The Gamecocks would use a Alex Destino sacrifice fly and a throwing error to score the remaining runs.
The Gamecocks chased one of the top pitching prospects in the country, Robert Tyler, out of the game after only 3.1 innings. It’s the righty's shortest outing of the season.
“We got his pitch count up,” head coach Chad Holbrook said. “It started with the first hitter of the game, Gene. He had a nine, 10-pitch at-bat here. He didn’t get a hit but it showed the other guys let’s not get any first-pitch outs.”
It wasn’t the offensive explosion fans are used to seeing but Holbrook said he’s happy with the at-bats his team put up. He’s also happy to see his team rebound from the 15-0 loss Wednesday.
“You have to have some character,” Holbrook said. “You’re going to face adversity and you’re going to have to bounce back; fall down seven times get up eight is all I tell them.”
South Carolina will play Georgia on Saturday at 6 p.m. It will not be televised.