South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks Win Big at Home to Own Rivalry Series Against Clemson

South Carolina Baseball

The view from behind home plate at Founder’s Park for the South Carolina baseball team. Mandatory Credit, Syndication: The Greenville News.

After evening the series at 1-1 in the Reedy River Game on Saturday, the South Carolina baseball team looked to win the rivalry series against the Clemson Tigers with a Sunday victory at Founder’s Park.

An exciting game from its first pitch, Jack Mahoney got out of a jam that he created (surrendered a hit, then made an error) with two big strikeouts to end the top of the first. The Tigers’ Billy Barlow toed the rubber for his start of the season and promptly gave up a run after a double from Braylen swimmer and an RBI single off the bat of Cole Messina. The Tigers’ nine-hole hitter Riley Bertram tied things up with an RBI single in the 2nd.

The Gamecocks’ big first baseman Gavin Casas sent a solo shot the opposite way to left field to regain the lead for the home team decked out in their sharp black alternate home jerseys.

Home plate umpire Greg Street was featured prominently in the early goings, as his zone was all over the place. In just the first two innings, both Mahoney and Barlow were gifted several strikes that were nowhere close to the strike zone. Bad calls behind the plate remained a theme throughout the game but not as frequently as in the first two frames.

Mahoney made it through the 4th frame with just the one run, but he was laboring as it took 83 pitches and 7 allowed base runners to get through four innings.

Clemson’s bullpen began its work in the 3rd, with Columbia native Ty Olenchuk holding the Gamecocks scoreless for an inning before Gavin Casas drove another one out of the park in the 4th, this time to straightaway center field through a strong wind for two more runs. Third baseman Talmadge LeCroy went back-to-back with Casas to add another run.

The margin could have been even more lopsided as the YardCocks had hit five other Tiger pitches to the warning track in the game, but nevertheless, the score stood 5-1 as Olenchuk’s day was done headed into the 5th inning.

James Hicks relieved Mahoney and pitched a scoreless 5th before the Gamecock offense added an insurance run thanks to a Caleb Denny double bringing home Braylen Wimmer. Hicks continued the good work by keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard again in the 6th, 7th, and 8th. The Clemson bullpen held their ground, as well, blanking the Gamecocks in the 6th and 7th before a Talmadge LeCroy single plated the former Tiger Dylan Brewer.

A herculean James Hicks stayed in the game for the ninth and shut the door on the rivalry series with six strikeouts in his five innings of 2-hit relief work. He fittingly got credit for the win, clinching the rivalry series for the South Carolina baseball program. College baseball’s biggest rivalry, as it should, belongs to the Gamecocks in 2023.

South Carolina will play again on Tuesday and Wednesday with a home tilt against The Citadel and a quick drive up I-26 to Spartanburg to see USC Upstate. After the two mid-weeks, the Gamecocks will return home for the weekend to take on Bethune Cookman in a three-game series.