Recap: Crowe's mound return a success as Gamecocks clinch series
South Carolina hosted UNC Greensboro Saturday afternoon at Founders Park for Game 2 of their three-game opening weekend series. The big news was the return of RHP Wil Crowe to the mound for the Gamecocks. How did the Gamecocks fare?
FINAL: South Carolina 5, UNCG 1
NCG (0-2) - 000 000 001 = 1-5-2
USC (2-0) – 001 030 01x = 5-10-1
WP – Wil Crowe (1-0)
LP – Bryce Hensley (0-1)
SV – Reed Scott (1)
HR – None
RBI – Alex Destino (2), Danny Blair (1), Carlos Corte (1).
LOB – USC 5, UNCG 6
A – 8,242 (Sellout)
Time – 2:22
Gamecock Pitchers: Wil Crowe (5.0 IP, 3H, 0R, 7K, 1BB, 19 BF, 82 pitches), Reed Scott (4.0 IP, 2H, 1R, 3K, 15 BF, 57 pitches).
-- Wil Crowe’s long-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery performed in the summer of 2015 finally happened Saturday at Founders Park. Crowe last pitched for the Gamecocks in 2015 as he missed the entire 2016 campaign.
-- Crowe worked around consecutive one-out singles in the top of the first with a popup and groundout. In the top of the second, he recorded his first two strikeouts. He walked the leadoff batter in the top of the third but retired the next three UNCG hitters. At the end of the 3rd, he had thrown 53 pitches.
-- While Crowe was keeping UNCG scoreless, the Gamecocks hitters weren’t having much success against Spartans starter Bryce Hensley. Alex Destino collected a two-out single in the bottom of the first. Hensley retired the next five Gamecocks until Danny Blair singled with one out in bottom of the third.
-- When Hopkins hit a comebacker, the UNCG pitcher whirled and fired to second. However, the throw sailed high into centerfield. Blair tried to go to third but was thrown out 8-5 as Hopkins reached second. Moments later, Justin Row’s grounder was mishandled by the UNCG 3B for an error as Hopkins scored the first run of the game. But Hopkins tried to reach second base but was thrown out 7-4 for the final out in the inning. As a result, USC achieved the baserunning triple in the bottom of the third as they had baserunners thrown out at first, second and third.
-- Crowe continued to get better as the game progressed, fanning the side in the top of the fourth and setting down UNCG in order in the fifth. He had thrown 82 pitches (54 for strikes) when the top of the fifth ended, virtually assuring we would see a new Gamecock pitcher in the top of the sixth.
-- USC expanded its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth as they collected five singles within a six batter span. Dany Blair’s RBI single plated Jacob Olson (ingle + advanced to 2B on wild pitch). Three batters later, Alex Destino came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. He whacked a single to LCF, scoring Brice and Blair to give the Gamecocks a 4-0 lead.
-- Senior reliever Reed Scott took over mound duties from Crowe beginning in the top of the sixth and worked a perfect inning. Crowe and Scott combined to retire 12 straight UNCG batters following a leadoff walk in the top of the third. The streak reached 15 straight UNCG batters until a leadoff infield single in the top of the eighth. But the next three UNCG hitters were retired, making it 18 of 19 for Crowe and Scott.
-- Highly-touted freshman Carlos Cortes made his first career hit count for something as his check swing RBI single to right scored Chris Cullen in the bottom of the eighth as the Gamecocks increased their lead to 5-0.
HOW THE RUNS SCORED:
USC 3rd – Bride grounded to pitcher, Blair singled to right, Hopkins reached on fielder's choice when Blair advanced to second on throwing error (E1) and thrown out at third (Hopkins advanced to second on throw), Row reached and Hopkins scored on fielding error (E5), Row thrown out at second (7-4). ONE RUN, ONE HIT (USC 1-0).
USC 5th – Cortes grounded to short, Olson singled to left, Olson advanced to second on wild pitch, Bride singled to left, Blair singled to right (RBI), Hopkins struckout, Row singled to third (bunt), Destino singled to left-center (2 RBI), Cullen popped to third. THREE RUNS, FIVE HITS (USC 4-0).
USC 8th – Destino flied to center, Cullen walked, Stokes hit by pitch, Cortes singled to right (RBI), Olson struck out and Stokes thrown out 2-5-2-5. ONE RUN, ONE HIT (USC 5-0).
UNCG 9th - Moritz singled and advanced to second on fielding error (E8), Stewart grounded to third, Goss hit sacrifice fly to right (RBI), Sigmon hit by pitch, Trejo grounded to second. ONE RUN, ONE HIT. GAME OVER (USC 5-1).