Jayson Jeffers / The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks offense explodes early to clinch series over No. 4 Ole Miss

The South Carolina bats continued to light up on Saturday afternoon as the Gamecocks defeated No. 4 Ole Miss 11-6 to clinch the series. With the win, South Carolinas has won its third straight SEC series since 2012.

The Gamecocks broke out of a scoreless tie in the third as Matt Williams hit a leadoff home run, his third of the season. TJ Hopkins walked and Carlos Cortes singled and a double steal put them both in scoring position. Madison Stokes hit a sac fly to plate one, then Jonah Bride hit an RBI single to plate Cortes and make it a 3-0 game through three. 

The Rebels got one back in the top of the fourth via a walk and two singles. The Gamecocks responded immediately, scoring five runs off of six hits while sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom half of the inning.  

The Gamecocks are now averaging over nine runs a game over their past nine games and are continuing to build as a strong offense. Head coach Mark Kingston said he's happy to see his offense continue to get better throughout this season and since last season as well. 

"I thought we would be an improved offense over last year," Kingston said. "I don't know if you can ever predict you'll hit .320 in the SEC, the pitching is just too good, and to average nine runs a game over an extended period, also something I'm very pleased with but we just want to sustain it."

South Carolina grew its lead even more in the fifth. Williams hit his second single of the day and Hopkins drew a walk with two outs. Cortes did exactly what he did in the inning prior, and brought two home on a double to make it 10-1. 

Pitching was once again an issue for South Carolina. Starter Adam Hill didn't have his best stuff but had a strong bounce back performance from last week and was effective enough to get the job done behind an explosive offense. He gave up just one earned run on three hits over six innings of work. He only walked three and struck out six, marking the third straight week he's struck out six or more. 

Both Carmen Mlodzinski and Graham Lawson struggled behind him. Mlodzinski lasted just one inning, giving up three runs on four hits and struck out just one. Lawson only got one out before giving up two runs on two hits and the Rebels suddenly made it a four-run game. 

Eddy Demurias was able to come in for the final 1.2 innings and shut the Rebels down for good, helping the Gamecocks clinch the series. 

"It's a good ball club and they're gonna score their runs," Kingston said of the late comeback efforts from the Rebels. "It's gonna happen at some point, you have to weather the storm there,  that's why I was pleased that Eddy came in there and kinda weathered the storm, settled it down, we answered with a run ... When you face an offense that good, at some point they're gonna get hot."

South Carolina (28-19, 13-10 SEC) will now look for its second SEC series sweep in three weeks. First pitch of the series finale is at noon on Sunday. Cody Morris will head to the mound, looking to turn things around for the pitchers this weekend. 

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