In case you haven’t noticed, this South Carolina baseball team is special. The Gamecocks took a 20-1 start into this week, and the team was leading the country in home runs and runs scored while sitting in the top-10 of most pitching statistics. In other words, the YardCocks have been utterly dominant.
A bit of angst and consternation rumbled through the fanbase after a mid-week loss at Charlotte. True freshman Eli Jerzembeck was not very sharp on the mound in that contest, and the 49ers took advantage with a big 4th inning. The Gamecocks couldn’t recover and suffered their second loss of the season.
Fast forward to Friday, and newly-ranked Missouri traveled to Columbia full of confidence after sweeping the top-10 Tennessee Volunteers last weekend. Adding to the difficulty, the Mizzou series would also feature another Saturday double header (that’s three weekends in a row for those counting at home).
Game 1 started off strong for Carolina as the home team jumped out to a 4-0 lead after a Will McGillis grand slam, but starter Will Sanders gave the runs right back to the Tigers. Ethan Petry added another home run, but Luke Mann belted three for the visiting team. More runs off of relievers James Hicks and Matthew Becker put the Gamecocks down 8-5, a score that would stand until two outs in the ninth.
That’s when things got nutty. With the bases loaded after a walk, a dropped third strike, and a hit by pitch, Caleb Denny delivered a single into right center. With two runs in, pinch hitter Jonathan French added another run with a single of his own. Michael Braswell then hit a groundball into the hall at short, where Justin Colon proceeded to throw the ball away, allowing for Denny to come around to score the game’s winning run.
After the 9-8 thriller on Friday night, Saturday’s first game was all Gamecocks. Because of a Will McGillis broken arm in game 1, Will Tippett played 2B, and Evan Stone got the start in center. Stone delivered in a big way for his team with the first two home runs of his career.
That would be more than enough for the Gamecocks as Noah Hall was dealing. Over seven innings, Hall scattered five hits and just one walk while striking out ten. Chris Veach and Cade Austin finished out the 8-1 victory.
In the third and final game of the series, USC and Mizzou locked into an extra innings classic. After getting a gutsy 4.1 innings from an extremely sick Jack Mahoney, Carolina found themselves down 4-2 in the 8th. Following a Gavin Casas walk, Ethan Petry unloaded on his 11th bomb of the season to tie the score at 4-4.
Matthew Becker pitched three scoreless before the Gamecocks came to the plate in the 12th. Will Tippett walked and advanced to third on a throwing error after a Braylen Wimmer bunt. Gavin Casas was intentionally walked to set up the force play, and Petry stepped to the plate once again. One of the most exciting Gamecock freshmen in years delivered once again, knocking a 1-1 curveball back up the middle, plating Tippet for the winning run. The 5-4 victory secured another sweep for the Gamecocks and a 6-0 start in SEC play.
South Carolina continued playing incredible baseball this weekend and will look to ride the momentum into next week. The Gamecocks will face The Citadel Bulldogs on Tuesday in Charleston. First pitch will be at 7:00 and will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+ and the ESPN App.
Next weekend, the Gamecocks will be on the road in Starkville to take on Mississippi State. Game 1 will be at 7:00 on the SECNetwork and ESPN App, game 2 will also be at 7:00 but will air on SECNetwork+ and the ESPN App, and the series finale will be on Sunday at 3:00 on the SECNetwork+ and the ESPN App.