The Daily Gamecock

Hill electric in finale as Gamecocks salvage series against Vanderbilt

"I don't have a crystal ball," South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook said. "But I have a good feeling that we'll look back in late May and June and say that Sunday [Saturday] against Vanderbilt was the biggest win of the year."

The Gamecocks entered Saturday's finale with Vanderbilt having dropped three consecutive SEC games, but earned a 6-1 victory to help salvage the weekend series. 

"It feels awfully good to win this one today when we didn't feel so good coming to the park today," Holbrook said. 

South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley was joined by the 2017 National Champions to help throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Staley donned remnants of the net she cut down in Dallas last weekend when she took the mound. 

After going down in order in its first at-bat, South Carolina had failed to move a runner into scoring position in its previous eight innings dating back to Friday night's 13-inning loss. 

The Gamecocks' scuffling lineup showed signs of life in the second inning when catcher Chris Cullen and designated hitter Carlos Cortes leadoff with back-to-back singles. 

Sophomore second baseman LT Tolbert went hitless in five trips to the plate in the second game of the series, but had previously been in the middle of a torrid stretch. With one down Tolbert turned on a fastball and pulled a three-run home run to right field. 

Tolbert has driven in 10 runs over his previous five games. He also hit a three-run home run in the series opener. 

Sophomore center fielder TJ Hopkins returned to lineup after missing Friday's contest with a nagging hamstring injury. He leadoff the bottom of the third inning with a double to deep right center field. Hopkins would score on a sacrifice-fly by left fielder Alex Destino to extend the Gamecocks' advantage to 4-0. 

Vanderbilt found sophomore Adam Hill to be just about unhittable. Hill relied heavily on a disproportionate dose of fastballs, using the late tail on his pitch to miss barrels. 

"It [his fastball] had a little bit of extra life today," Hill said. "My command was a little erratic. I was getting a little higher run than I usually do. I was throwing it in there and it was working for me, so I just kept throwing it."

The right-hander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and recorded 11 strikeouts to tie a career-high. 

Hill's pitch count was inflated by his high strikeout total and also by the five free passes he granted. 

Hill walked Vanderbilt third baseman Will Toffey for the third time to leadoff the seventh inning and was pulled after throwing 110 pitches. Senior reliever Josh Reagan entered with no outs and relinquished the no-hitter on the second pitch of his outing. Vanderbilt's Reed Hayes broke up the shutout with an RBI-single that scored Toffey later in the inning. 

The Gamecocks padded their lead with a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, with Destino and Hopkins each driving in runs. 

South Carolina improves to 7-5 in SEC. On Tuesday they will look to avenge last season's 15-0 loss to North Carolina in their annual midweek special at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.