The Daily Gamecock

Wynkoop's complete game performance leads South Carolina to much needed win over No. 5 Vanderbilt

Not again, many thought.

South Carolina, a team in the midst of tough stretch, appeared to be on its way to a much needed victory, but things quickly changed.

For most of the night, the Gamecocks led 2-0 against No. 5 Vanderbilt behind a dominant outing by junior pitcher Jack Wynkoop, but the Commodores rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh inning to even the score.

For South Carolina, having such a golden opportunity for a victory go to waste would be devastating.

But the Gamecocks weren’t denied a chance at victory for once and won 5-2 thanks to an impressive complete game by Wynkoop and a late-inning rally by a patient group of South Carolina batters.

“This was probably our most important and biggest win of the year thus far,” South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook said.

With the victory, the Gamecocks snapped a five-game losing skid and avoided losing the first two games of an SEC series for the first time in over a month.

Showing resilience just moments after Vanderbilt changed the course of the game, South Carolina scored twice in the seventh inning to regain the lead, drawing four consecutive walks as the Commodore bullpen couldn’t back up a solid outing by junior starting pitcher Walker Buehler.

The Gamecocks have certainly struggled to produce at the plate throughout the season, but when it needed a win in the worst way, South Carolina found a way score.

“That was the first time we respond in the right way in what felt like a couple of weeks,” Holbrook said.

Of course, none of that would have mattered if Wynkoop didn’t save his best performance of his college career for when South Carolina absolutely had to have it.

With sophomore Wil Crowe now out for the remainder of the year, Wynkoop is now South Carolina’s ace and by far its most experienced and polished pitcher. He made that clear with his performance against Vanderbilt, one of the conference’s most productive offenses.

“I’d say this is number one,” Wynkoop said when comparing his performance from Friday night to past outings. “Just because of how big of a team win it was for us.”

Facing a lineup that features six batters batting north of .300, Wynkoop recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts and allowed just two earned runs while going the distance for the first time in his college career.

Now the lone veteran presence in a youthful and somewhat unreliable starting rotation, Wynkoop is the one guy capable of having a performance like the one he had on Friday with all the pressure on him according to Holbrook.

“For some reason I just felt like, if we won the game tonight, Wynkoop was going to throw a complete game,” Holbrook said.

Whether it be with his fastball or his off-speed stuff, Wynkoop navigated his way past the Commodores thanks to his command, as he continuously hit his spots.

Oblivious to his high pitch count, Wynkoop found a way to stay energized late in Friday night’s ballgame. Wynkoop finished with 131 total pitches, but said he was only focused on helping his team earn the win.

Fortunately for Wynkoop, his offense helped him out, too.

One night removed from a tough outing against Vanderbilt junior ace Carson Fulmer, South Carolina was able to put together a 10-hit performance.

South Carolina opened up the scoring with a two-run home run by junior third baseman DC Arendas before fighting back for three runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

“I think one through nine tonight, our lineup did a really good job of plate approach,” Arendas said.

While it’s only one game, Wynkoop is hoping that Friday’s emotional win can be the start of a strong finish to the year for the Gamecocks.

“Hopefully this can be a turning point in our season if we keep playing well,” Wynkoop said.

More performances like the one he just had wouldn’t hurt, either.


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