The Gamecocks continued their trend of getting clutch hits again today, coming back from an early one-run deficit and a couple of fielding miscues to earn their third victory of the weekend.
Back-to-back errors by Marcus Mooney and Chris Cullen helped Albany get on the board with a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and though South Carolina had a chance to tie things up or take the lead in the next inning, they couldn't quite get the offense clicking enough to do so.
Outside of the Danes' one run, both teams were pretty quiet offensively throughout the first half of the game. The Gamecocks managed to tie things up in the fifth inning, though, courtesy of an RBI single from John Jones, who I'm already declaring as the team MVP (don't let me down, John).
The offense got even more productive in the next inning, bringing in four more runs. LT Tolbert knocked a one-out double, Cullen followed with a single, and pinch-hitter Gene Cone got Tolbert home on a fielder's choice. Mooney was up next and tallied a double of his own, then Danny Blair contributed an RBI single. After a walk to Dom Thompson-Williams that loaded the bases, Jones came through with a two-run base hit, making it 5-1 Gamecocks.
South Carolina added three more runs in the seventh inning. Tolbert led off with a single and came home on a one-out sac fly from Cone, then DTW knocked a two-out, two-run base hit to put the home team up 8-1.
Jones had an outstanding series, tallying nine RBI and coming through in the clutch more than once. The entire offense was really strong overall, though, which is encouraging, especially considering how streaky and ineffective a lot of guys were at the plate last season. It's also great to see the new guys making an impact right away, as Jones and Cullen, among others, have.
Despite the pair of early errors, the defense was also generally strong for the Gamecocks today, another encouraging sign after last year's team struggled mightily in the field at times. It was also good to see the players bounce back after making mistakes, something last year's team also had difficulty with.
Starting pitcher Taylor Widener had a nice outing, working five innings, allowing only two hits, issuing no walks and registering six strikeouts. After the one unearned run, he really settled in and at one point retired 10 Albany players in a row. The bullpen also did a great job today, as Colie Bowers, Vince Fiori, Tyler Johnson, Canaan Cropper, and Brandon Murray all took the mound against the Danes today and allowed them very few hits and no runs. In this series, the bullpen worked a total of 11 innings and allowed no earned runs.
The Gamecocks improve to 3-0, while Albany drops to 0-3. South Carolina's next game is scheduled for Tuesday at 4 p.m. against Appalachian State. Freshman Adam Hill is expected to start on the mound for the Gamecocks, per coach Chad Holbrook.