Rain forced a suspension in the first game of this weekend’s series against Valparaiso, but it didn’t dampen No. 24 South Carolina’s offense, as the Gamecocks got back in the win column with a 9-2 victory.
The Crusaders got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Jeremy Drudge. USC tied things up and took the lead in the third. Quinntin Perez walked to start things off, George Callil got hit by a pitch, Noah Campbell singled, and everyone advanced on an error, tying the game. With one out, TJ Hopkins walked, then Luke Berryhill came through with an RBI sac fly to make it 2-1 Gamecocks.
South Carolina added a couple of insurance runs in the next inning. Brady Allen led off with a base hit, Chris Cullen walked, and with one out, Callil also walked, loading the bases. Campbell followed with an RBI sac fly to score Allen, then Andrew Eyster knocked an RBI single to make the score 4-1. The game was suspended in the top of the fifth, and when it resumed on Saturday, the Gamecocks tacked on another run in the bottom of the inning on a two-out solo homer by Cullen.
Valpo scored its only other run of the game in the top of the seventh inning on an RBI single from Sam Shaikin, making it a 5-2 game. USC then scored twice in the bottom of the inning. Jacob Olson, Allen, and Cullen started things off with a trio of singles, with Cullen’s bringing Olson home. Callil got hit by a pitch, then Campbell reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Allen to make the score 7-2.
The last two runs of the game came in the next inning. Hopkins led off with a single, then came home on a one-out RBI double from Olson, putting the Gamecocks up 8-2. Olson advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Allen.
South Carolina starter Wesley Sweatt worked four innings and allowed three hits and one run. He walked two batters and struck three out. John Gilreath and Cam Tringali also pitched in this game, with Gilreath earning the win, making him 2-1, and Tringali getting the save, his first. Valparaiso starter Michael Kornacker took the loss and is now 0-2.
The Gamecocks improve to 11-3, while the Crusaders drop to 2-8. They’ll play again Saturday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 4:15 p.m. at Founders Park. Reid Morgan will start on the mound for USC.