As I said in the recap from the first game of this series, it's still early on and the competition level hasn't exactly been intense, but this South Carolina baseball team might just be for real. They added more evidence for that claim by destroying Penn State 16-4 in the second game of the series this afternoon.
The Gamecocks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, courtesy of a three-run homer from Alex Destino. South Carolina loaded the bases in the next inning with Destino up again, but he was unable to capitalize that time.
The Nittany Lions made things interesting in the third inning, pulling within one run. After a Marcus Mooney error, an RBI single from Greg Guers got Penn State on the board, and another error by Mooney helped a second runner come home.
Fortunately, the Gamecocks tacked on some insurance runs in the bottom of the inning. LT Tolbert led off with a single, Gene Cone walked, and Mooney redeemed himself by doubling to make it 4-2. With two outs, Dom Thompson-Williams walked, a wild pitch brought another run in, and then Jonah Bride contributed an RBI base hit to give South Carolina another run. John Jones followed with a walk, then Destino belted a bomb to clear the bases and put the home team up by a comfortable score of 10-2.
The Gamecocks added another run in the fourth inning, courtesy of Mooney again, who knocked an RBI single. The Nittany Lions scored in the sixth inning on a two-our RBI base hit by Christian Helsel, putting the score at 11-3.
The game was pretty much broken open by that point already, but that didn't stop South Carolina from adding five more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Cone made it to first base on an error, DC Arendas got his first hit of the season, and with one out, Danny Blair came through with an RBI single. Bride walked with two outs, and with the bases full of Gamecocks again, it was Jones' turn to hit a grand slam, putting the home team up 16-3.
Penn State scored another run in the next inning on an RBI sac fly from Jim Haley. South Carolina got the bases loaded again in the bottom of the eighth, but they couldn't get any more runs in. The Nittany Lions' final run of the day came on another sac fly in the bottom of the ninth.
Getting one grand slam in a game is pretty rare, so to get two today was incredible. The offense has been on fire all season, and the level at which everyone up and down the lineup is contributing right now is really encouraging. Destino tallied seven RBI just in today's game, while Jones now has 17 RBI on the season.
Pitching was also pretty solid again today. Starter Braden Webb had a few command issues, but overall had a nice outing. He worked five innings and allowed three hits, two runs (both unearned), walked three batters, and struck out five. Colton Provey, Tyler Haswell, Matt Vogel, Vince Fiori, and Destino also took the mound for the Gamecocks today. Vogel's appearance was cut short by an apparent injury, however.
South Carolina takes the series and improves to 7-0, while Penn State drops to 2-4. The Gamecocks will look for the sweep tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Founder's Park. Taylor Widener will take the mound for the home team, while Justin Hagenman will get the nod for the Nittany Lions.