College baseball is back, and though the game got tense at the end, the Gamecocks started the season with a 9-7 win over UNC Greensboro on Friday night.
The Spartans got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo shot by Pres Cavenau. South Carolina answered in the bottom of the inning to first tie the game up, then take the lead. Brandt Belk, who transferred to USC from Missouri, singled to start things off, freshman Michael Braswell walked, and both runners advanced on a passed ball. Braylen Wimmer followed with a groundout that was enough to get Belk home, and Andrew Eyster came through with a run-scoring double to make it 2-1.
The Cocks added another run in the second inning, courtesy of a two-out homer by Vanderbilt transfer Matt Hogan that made it a 3-1 game. Two more Carolina runs were scored in the next inning, putting the Gamecocks up 5-1 thanks to another two-run shot, this time from Eyster.
The middle innings were quiet for both teams, but USC tacked on another run in the seventh with the help of a UNCG error to put the home team up 6-1. Both teams added more runs in the eighth. In the top of the inning, the Spartans made it 6-3 with a two-run blast by Hogan Windish, then the Cocks scored three runs in the bottom of the inning on a Hogan triple, a Belk sac fly, and a Braswell dinger, making it a 9-3 game.
UNCG rallied in the ninth inning, as South Carolina’s pitching was shaky and the Spartans were able to score four two-out runs, thanks to a Kennedy Jones single and a pair of doubles from Cavenau and Windish.
Gamecocks starter Will Sanders had a good first outing, working five innings and allowing just three hits and one run. He struck out three batters and didn’t walk any. Noah Hall, Cade Austin, John Gilreath, and Wesley Sweatt combined to go the rest of the way, and Sanders got the win while Sweatt got the save. UNCG starter Austin Koehn took the loss. Eyster led USC at the plate with three hits and three RBI, while Windish had three hits and four RBI to lead the Spartans.
Carolina is now 1-0 on the season, while UNC Greensboro is 0-1. They’ll meet again on Saturday at Founder’s Park, with first pitch set for 12:30 p.m. James Hicks will start on the mound for the home team.