No. 20 South Carolina only needed six and a half innings of play to get a victory in the opener against Bethune-Cookman, winning 20-3 in a run rule-shortened game.
The Gamecocks got on the board first, going up 1-0 in the second inning after Cole Messina got hit by a pitch and later scored on a groundout by Talmadge LeCroy. The Wildcats ended the shutout and took the lead in the next inning, making it 2-1 courtesy of a Luis Tuero single and a wild pitch. USC responded by scoring twice in the bottom of the inning, regaining the lead for good thanks to a pair of homers from Gavin Casas and Messina that made it a 3-2 game.
The Cocks broke things wide open in the fourth. LeCroy started things off with a base hit, Carson Hornung got hit by a pitch, and Will McGillis walked to load the bases. Dylan Brewer then followed with a grand slam to put Carolina up 7-2. With one out, Braylen Wimmer singled, Casas walked, and Messina went yard to make it 10-2. LeCroy later doubled to bring in another run, making the score 11-2, and he eventually scored on a fly out by Brewer that pushed the lead to 12-2.
Bethune-Cookman’s final run of the game came in the top of the sixth, when Hylan Hall hit a solo shot to make it a 12-3 game. The Gamecocks then added a lot more runs in the bottom of the inning. Ethan Petry singled to lead off, LeCroy walked, and Hornung got hit by a pitch to again load the bases with no outs, then McGillis came through with a grand slam of his own to make the score 16-3. Brewer walked, Michael Braswell also walked with one out, and Jonathan French knocked a base hit to bring in a run, putting South Carolina up 17-3. After Messina walked, Will Tippett and Kevin Madden both reached on fielder’s choices to bring in a pair of runs, making it 19-3. The final run came on a base hit by David Cromer that got Messina home.
Cocks starter Will Sanders worked six innings and allowed five hits and three runs. He walked one batter, struck out eight, and earned the win, making him 2-1. Austin Williamson also pitched in this game. Wildcats starter Louis Lipthratt went 3.1 innings and gave up six hits and nine runs. He walked four batters, struck one out, and took the loss, making him 1-1.
Messina, Petry, and LeCroy each had two hits to lead USC at the plate, while Brewer tallied five RBI. Five different Bethune-Cookman players had a hit, and Tuero and Hall each recorded an RBI.
The Gamecocks improve to 14-1 on the season, while the Wildcats are now 8-6. They’ll meet again Saturday for a doubleheader, with the first game set to start at 1 p.m. at Founders Park. Noah Hall is slated to start on the mound for the home team.