South Carolina looked unimpressive at the plate for almost eight full innings against UNC Greensboro on Sunday afternoon, but then the offense finally showed up and the Gamecocks rallied for an 8-7 win and the first series victory of the season.
The Spartans got on the board early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a single by Hogan Windish. They added three more runs in the next inning courtesy of a two-run double from Kennedy Jones and a Pres Cavenaugh single that made it a 4-0 game. UNCG tacked on another run in the next inning thanks to a base hit by Collin Fowler, bumping the score to 5-0.
That held until the eighth inning, when both teams tallied a run. The Spartans took a 6-0 lead in the top of the inning on a sac fly from Dallas Callahan, then USC finally ended the shutout in the bottom of the inning. Talmadge LeCroy and Matt Hogan walked and Brandt Belk singled to load the bases with no outs, then Braylen Wimmer came through with a one-out single to make it 6-1. The Cocks unfortch squandered a chance to add to their total by leaving the bases loaded, they had better luck in the ninth.
First, UNCG scored their final run in the top of the ninth, giving them a 7-1 lead thanks to a Zack Budzik fly out. Things really got interesting after that. Kevin Madden singled to start the bottom of the inning and advanced on a wild pitch, then Connor Cino went yard with one out to make it a 7-3 game. Carson Hornung followed that with a base hit, a fielding error got Michael Braswell to first with two outs, and Wimmer got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then Andrew Eyster, who’d been having a rough day at the plate, came through with a grand slam to tie the game. Carolina had a chance to walk it off after that, but left a couple of runners aboard instead.
It was Braswell’s turn to play the hero in extras, first by striking out the side as a relief pitcher, then with a fielder’s choice that scored Colin Burgess from second in the bottom of the inning to give the Gamecocks the walk-off win.
USC starter Josiah Sightler struggled on the mound, working just 2.2 innings and giving up six hits and five runs. He didn’t allow any walks and struck out three batters. Wesley Sweatt, Noah Hall, Michael Esposito, John Gilreath, and Braswell combined to go the rest of the way, and for the second day in a row, the bullpen was really strong. Braswell got the win, while Spartans reliever Caleb Freeman took the loss. Wimmer led the Cocks at the plate with three hits, and Eyster recorded four RBI. Five UNCG players tallied five hits, and Jones led them in the RBI count with two.
South Carolina is now 2-1 on the season, while the Spartans are 1-2. The Gamecocks will be back in action on Tuesday, when they host Winthrop. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.