The “hit a lot of homers” strategy continues to work well for the No. 24 Gamecocks, as they won yet another game thanks to a strong offensive performance, beating Valparaiso 12-6 on Sunday.
Both teams were scoreless until the bottom of the third, when South Carolina took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run from Ian Jenkins, his first hit of the season. The Crusaders tied things up in the top of the next inning on a two-out RBI double by Jeremy Drudge, but the tie didn’t last long. In the bottom of the inning, TJ Hopkins went yard with one out to put the Gamecocks up 2-1, then Luke Berryhill doubled and Jacob Olson hit a homer of his own to make it 4-1.
USC added another run in the fifth inning, after Jenkins doubled to lead off and Hopkins came through with an RBI double to make the score 5-1. Valpo got several runs back in the next inning, as a passed ball and a Blake Billinger two-run home run made it a 5-4 game.
The Crusaders then tied the game in the seventh inning with an RBI sac fly from Sam Shaikin. Again, the tie was short-lived, as the Gamecocks regained the lead in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Hopkins knocked a base hit and advanced on a wild pitch, Berryhill walked, and then Olson went yard again to put the home team up 8-5.
Valparaiso’s final run of the game came on a solo shot by Brent Jones that started the eighth inning and made it an 8-6 game. South Carolina’s final four runs also came in the eighth inning. Jenkins started things off with a single, Noah Campbell also singled then advanced on a throwing error, and a wild pitch scored Jacob English, who was put in to run for Jenkins, giving the Gamecocks a 9-6 lead. Brady Allen then got hit and Hopkins followed that with a two-run triple, making the score 11-6, and Berryhill was safe on a fielder’s choice that also got Hopkins home.
USC starter Brett Kerry worked five innings and allowed six hits and three runs. He didn’t walk any batters and struck six out. Dylan Harley, Sawyer Bridges, and TJ Shook combined to go the rest of the way, with Bridges getting the win, making him 1-0, and Shook earning the save, his first of the season. Crusaders reliever Tanner Skidmore took the loss and is now 0-1.
The Gamecocks improve to 13-3 with the win, while Valpo drops to 2-10. South Carolina’s next game will be away from Founders Park and is scheduled for Tuesday against The Citadel, with first pitch set for 7 p.m. in Charleston.