Photo: Jayson Jeffers / The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks carry momentum to sweep Princeton

The South Carolina baseball team used timely hitting and strong pitching to sweep the Princeton Tigers this weekend. This is the Gamecocks' first series sweep since March 17-19 of last year against Tennessee. 

The series was primarily dominated by the offense, as the Gamecock hitters found their momentum over the course of each game. 

The top four of the Gamecocks lineup stayed the same throughout the series but had most of the offensive production. Noah Campbell, TJ Hopkins, Madison Stokes and LT Tolbert hit a combined .476 on the weekend with 12 RBIs, 14 runs scored and three home runs. 

Hopkins said after the doubleheader that having that production from the top half of the lineup is key for getting the rest of the lineup to follow with big at-bats. 

"I feel like when me and Noah get on the bases we can do a lot of different things. Obviously it's no secret LT and Madison have been swinging the bat well all year for us so you, as a whole lineup, when your top four guys are getting on base and you're just seeing the ball well and everybody in the top of the order is hitting well it makes it easier for the bottom half of the lineup to hit," he said.

The Gamecock bats went cold for a while during game three, as they scored early up until the third and did not score again until the eighth. Despite not scoring during those middle innings, South Carolina still maintained the lead the entire time thanks to pitching. 

The Gamecock pitchers didn't have their sharpest series, but still got the big outs, limited walks and did what was needed to get the wins. Adam Hill and John Gilreath combined to throw 17 strikeouts in Friday's win, despite Hill having a shaky first and giving up a run. 

Cody Morris picked up his third win of the season in game one of Saturday's doubleheader. He threw six innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits. Sawyer Bridges, who came in first in relief, gave up two hits and walked one in his one inning of work, but Hunter Lomas came in to get the save and pitched two perfect innings. 

Eddy Demurias got his first start in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader and faced some struggles later in the game. He gave up four runs, including back-to-back home runs in the sixth that would end his day. He finished the game with four strikeouts and didn't walk a batter. 

Kingston kept the game three starter a secret up until after game two ended, but many figured it would be Demurias that would end up taking the mound. Kingston was overall pleased with Demurias' first start but recognizes there is still work to be done and many talented pitchers in his bullpen.

"The key is we want guys that are in there that are going to throw strikes, and he didn't walk any batters today," Kingston said. "Four strikeouts, I mean you'd like to see a little bit more than that, you want to see him be able to strikeout at least a guy an inning which I believe he's more than capable of. But he didn't walk guys, and so we're going to try to continue to pitch as many guys that will throw strikes and not give free passes as we can."

The Gamecocks continued to make adjustments on issues they had seen in previous games, like plate approach with two strikes, not walking too many batters and not making errors. South Carolina made just one error during the series. 

South Carolina (11-5) will now look to continue this four-game win streak as the Gamecocks are back at home on Wednesday night to host Harvard. First pitch is at 7 p.m., and this is the final nonconference action before mixing in conference opponents as they open SEC play next weekend. 

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