Apparently all South Carolina needed to get its offense back on track was a weekend in Knoxville.
The Gamecocks jumped out to an early lead on Sunday, taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning courtesy of a two-run Madison Stokes homer. Tennessee cut that lead in half in the bottom of the inning, though, on an RBI single by Max Bartlett.
The next couple of innings were pretty quiet, but South Carolina broke things wide open in the fifth. Stokes led off with a double, Hunter Taylor and Danny Blair knocked back-to-back singles to load the bases, and Matt Williams came through with a base hit to make it 3-1. Jonah Bride contributed an RBI single to bring in another run, then Alex Destino smacked a two-run double to make the score 6-1. With two outs, LT Tolbert singled to bring in two more runs, and Taylor came through with an RBI single to increase the score to 9-1.
The Vols tacked on their only other run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to an Andre Lipcius RBI single.
The final run of the game came in the top of the eighth inning, when Destino belted a solo shot with one out.
South Carolina starting pitcher Cody Morris had a nice outing, working 3 2⁄3 innings and allowing just one hit and one run. He walked two batters and struck out four. Sawyer Bridges and Cody Lee combined to go the rest of the way for the Gamecocks, and while they both did a good job, Lee in particular was very impressive. He also earned the win, his first of the season and his career.
After having been up and down all season, South Carolina’s offense was very productive in this weekend’s series. Outside of the six homers they hit this weekend, the Gamecocks also capitalized on scoring chances and did very well with runners in scoring position, which was a welcome change from how things had been going. Hopefully this is something they can build on and sustain going forward in SEC (and nonconference) play. The defense was also strong in this series, with several players making webgem-worthy plays. All of this, along with getting a sweep in the opening weekend of conference play will also hopefully provide some confidence for this team.
With the win, South Carolina is now 14-5 overall and 3-0 in conference play, while Tennessee falls to 12-5 overall and 0-3 in the SEC. The Gamecocks will be back in action on Wednesday when they host Charleston Southern. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Founders Park.