COLUMBIA, S.C. – Fourth ranked South Carolina broke a 2-2 lead with a pair of runs in the seventh inning as the Gamecocks defeated Alabama 4-2 on Sunday at Founders Park to win the rubber game of a three-game SEC baseball series. Carolina improves to 17-6 and 5-1 in league play, with Alabama dropping to 12-12 and 1-5 in the SEC.
Junior left-hander John Parke earned his first win of the season after throwing a scoreless two innings of relief. Parke did not allow a hit and struck out one batter with one walk to move to 1-1 on the year. Senior right-hander Colie Bowers earned his third save of the season after 0.2 scoreless innings of relief with a strikeout. Alabama’s junior right-hander Garrett Suchey suffered the loss and is now 1-2 on the year. He gave up two unearned runs on two hits with one strikeout in 2.1 innings of relief.
Carolina got on the board with a 1-0 lead in the second inning. TJ Hopkins led off with a walk, Riley Hogan singled to left and LT Tolbert walked to load the bases for Danny Blair, who brought in a run with the third walk of the inning. Alabama tied it at 1-1 in the top of the sixth with a solo homer to right field by Gene Wood, his first of the season.
The Gamecocks regained the lead in the sixth after a two-out RBI double by Riley Hogan drove in Taylor, who reached on a walk. The Crimson Tide evened the game again at 2-2 in the seventh with another solo home run, this time by Cody Henry.
The Gamecocks answered again as Blair led off the seventh with a double to right center. Madison Stokes stepped to the plate and layed down a sacrifice bunt. On the play, Suchey decided to go to third in an attempt to get Blair, but his throw sailed wide and Blair scored to give the Gamecocks the lead. Matt Williams moved Stokes to third with a sac bunt and Jonah Bride brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center to give Carolina a two-run advantage.
The two-run seventh inning gave the Gamecocks a lead they would not relinquish.
KEY STAT Two of the Gamecocks’ eight walks at the plate led to two runs with two more runs resulting from Alabama’s error in the seventh inning.
NOTABLES • Freshman DH Riley Hogan led the Gamecocks at the plate as he reached base three times and went 2-for-3 with one RBI. He tied his career high hits with two for the second time this season, the first being on February 21 in his first career start vs. Charlotte.
• Jonah Bride has safely reached base 11 consecutive games. He went 0-for-2 with one walk and a sacrifice fly for a RBI.
• Blair drove in a run with a walk in the second. It was his first RBI since February 26 vs. Wright State. He also recorded his first double of the season.
• With his third inning leadoff walk, Matt Williams has consecutively reached base in 21 games.
• Hunter Taylor has safely reached base in nine consecutive games. He went 0-for-2 at the plate with two walks.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“It was obviously a very important win. I’m really proud of our team because we had to put some guys in some positions they hadn’t been in with conference games on the line. I’m extremely proud of Clarke [Schmidt] and Colie Bowers. We’re kind of used to the way Clarke threw. Over the course of our six conference games, we’ve had a lot of contributions from guys that have been put in spots that they haven’t been in in their career. To win five of our first six, when we’re a little bit shorthanded in some spots makes me proud as a coach. As far as the game was concerned, we got some big hits and big at bats from Riley Hogan, I think when it was 1-1 and he hit that ball over the left fielder’s head that gave our dugout some momentum. It was big for Riley, as a freshman. His BP looked great and that gave me the guts to go with him today. He certainly delivered for us. We got a couple other big hits. Jonah Bride did a good job. We got bunts down; we actually played a really good inning (7th inning) from a fundamental baseball standpoint. We got a bunt down and Jonah hit a sac fly. Hits were hard to come by and so were runs, but we found a way to score more than our opponent and for that, I’m grateful.”
South Carolina begins a four-game road trip on Tuesday at The Citadel. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. with the game availbale on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”