After a 15-3 rout of Utah Valley on Friday night, the Gamecock baseball team came into Founders Park looking to clinch the series over the Utah Valley Wolverines. They did so, as South Carolina (5-1) defeated Utah Valley (1-4) in a nail-biter, 6-5.
The Gamecocks secured the win because of good hitting and defense throughout the game, including a two-run walk-off home run in the ninth inning by sophomore infielder Noah Campbell to put the nail in the coffin for South Carolina.
The South Carolina defense showed up early in the game as freshman left-handed pitcher Dylan Harley and the rest of the defense forced three-straight three up, three downs in the first three innings of the game.
“Dylan Harley was pitching really well,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “Last week he got to the third inning and kind of hit a wall. Today, he went further, he had no walks today so I think that’s encouraging.”
This allowed the Gamecock offense to take the lead early in the game with junior infielder Quinntin Perez. Perez scored from second off of a base hit to left field by redshirt sophomore catcher Luke Berryhill in the first inning. Perez scored again from second off of a triple to right field by senior outfielder TJ Hopkins.
Despite the dominant pitching by Harley, the Wolverine offense woke up in the fifth inning as their junior outfielder Alexander Marco scored from second off of a double by freshman infielder Mick Madsen.
Utah Valley scored again in the inning as freshman right-handed pitcher Cam Tringali threw a wild pitch that allowed Madsen to score from third to tie the game at two a piece.
South Carolina responded in the sixth inning as Berryhill hit a solo home run to right field with two outs to regain the lead and in the seventh inning as senior catcher Chris Cullen hit a solo home run to left field with two outs.
The Gamecocks were hitting cruise control the rest of the way until the ninth inning when the Wolverine offense exploded.
Utah Valley got runners on second and third early in the inning as Wolverine senior infielder Michael Beltran doubled to left field to send both runners in to tie the game at four and then an RBI single by Marco sent Beltran in to give Utah Valley the lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Gamecocks' comeback started out slow as freshman outfielder Brady Allen was walked, then advanced to second on a balk and reached third on a sac bunt by Cullen.
Pinch hitter Jordan Holladay struck out to help the Wolverines to be one out away from securing the victory, but first Utah Valley would have to get past Campbell.
After a 2-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Campbell hit the two-run walk-off homer to right to give South Carolina the win.
“It was pretty surreal honestly,” Campbell said. “I hit it and I think I screamed ‘go’ but I honestly can’t even remember but it felt really good.”
South Carolina will look to secure its first sweep of the season on Sunday afternoon against Utah Valley at Founders Park. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network Plus.