It was another chilly Friday night at Founders Park, where starting pitcher Adam Hill threw a dominant performance to shutdown the Tigers and help the Gamecocks get the win. It was a similar situation from last week, just against different Tigers as South Carolina went on to get the 9-2 win over Princeton in game one.
Hill had a rough first inning, giving up a leadoff walk that would result in a run and throwing 30 pitches just to get through the inning. Head coach Mark Kingston knew that it wasn't the best he's seen Hill throw, but he got the job done on a Friday night.
"He wasn't quite as sharp tonight but I thought he really powered through it," Kingston said. "Didn't have quite the stuff, wasn't quite as sharp but Friday night guys, they need to find a way to get through it and he did. And he did and gave us five good innings, still had eight or nine strikeouts."
Outside of that first inning, Friday was a strong night for the Gamecock pitchers. Hill rebounded to throw four scoreless innings after the first and only walked two batters on the night. Kingston only had to go to the bullpen once, sending freshman John Gilreath to the mound.
Gilreath, who struggled in his first weekend start last Sunday against the Clemson Tigers, found his command again this week. He threw four innings of one-run baseball on just two hits. Gilreath walked two and struck out eight, giving the Gamecock pitchers 17 strikeouts on the night.
Using just two pitchers on Friday was huge for Kingston and his pitching staff, as they prepare for a doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday. After having that midweek game on Wednesday, using as little of the bullpen as possible was important to have the most guys available for Saturday.
"The two guys that pitched today obviously won't be available for tomorrow. John, we had to use him a little more than we would have liked, but, gotta do what you've got to do. The game was in question there for a while until we pulled away late so we'll have the rest of the guys available for tomorrow. Using two guys tonight will help the 10 or 11 guys who are available for tomorrow."
It took some time for the offense to find its momentum, as the game was tied at one until the bottom of the third. Noah Campbell hit a leadoff single and then used his speed to get home on a TJ Hopkins triple. Campbell also scored the Gamecocks first run of the game, hitting a leadoff double and then again used his speed to advance to third on a wild pitch, eventually running home on a throwing error.
The Gamecocks had five extra-base hits in Friday's win, including three doubles, a triple and a Matt Williams home run. While those hits gave the offense a big boost, South Carolina also played smart baseball and was able to score off wild pitches and balks. For Kingston, being able to have a versatile offense is important.
"We want to be a power team, but we also want to get really good at-bats with two strikes, we did that tonight," he said. "Had some good two-strike RBIs... we had five extra-base hits and to me, that's what you want your offense to look like. It's dangerous, you make a mistake, you can hit the ball into the gap or out of the park but we'll also battle with two strikes. To me, that's what you want an offense to be."
The Gamecocks look to continue this strong performance as they prepare for the doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch of game two is at 1 p.m., while game three will start approximately 30 minutes after. Cody Morris is scheduled to start the first game of the day for South Carolina.