The South Carolina baseball team defeated No. 3 North Carolina State (27-3, 10-2 ACC) Tuesday night in a non-conference matchup.
The Gamecocks (18-11, 2-7 SEC) had struggled in previous games at Charlotte’s BB&T Park, losing to the North Carolina Tarheels for the past three seasons by large margins. But they managed to gain some momentum on Tuesday night in Charlotte.
This was the first meeting between the teams on the diamond since 2008, when the NC State Wolfpack beat the Gamecocks twice in the NCAA Regionals to eliminate them in the postseason.
Tuesday’s outcome was a different story. NC State’s Will Wilson and Brad Debo each hit two-run home runs to put the Wolfpack up 4-0 in the top of the first.
South Carolina came firing back with a seven-run first inning of its own. Catcher Luke Berryhill hit a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 4-3 after T.J. Hopkins hit an RBI fielder’s choice. Jacob Olson then followed with a solo home run to tie the game at 4-4.
Chris Cullen and Ian Jenkins singled, then Brady Allen knocked out a three-run home run to put South Carolina up 7-4 going into the second inning.
“Baseball is a game of momentum,” head coach Mark Kingston said in an interview with Gamecock Central. “It shows this team that we are making progress and if we commit to the things we are working on, we can combine power and good at-bats. We did both tonight.”
The teams traded runs with NC State scoring in the second inning and South Carolina scoring in the fourth inning. The Gamecocks led 8-5 going into the fifth inning.
NC State cut the lead to 8-6 after a sacrifice-fly from Debo in the fifth inning. The Wolfpack put together a rally in the eighth inning, tying the game with Wilson’s two-run single. Errors in the outfield allowed the game-tying run to score.
Wesley Sweatt came into pitch for South Carolina in the eighth inning with the go-ahead run on third base and no outs. He recorded three consecutive outs to keep the game tied and keep the Wolfpack off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
“They kept us in the game,” Kingston said, referring to his bullpen. “We still gave up eight runs on twelve hits. Our defense was a little sloppy there in spots, but at the end of the day, we won a game against a team that was 27-2.”
South Carolina put together its own rally in the bottom of the ninth. T.J. Hopkins got it started with a one out single. Berryhill then hit into a fielder’s choice to bring up Olson with two outs and a runner on first.
Olson then belted a pitch over the left field wall for a walk-off two-run home run to win the game 10-8. Sweatt earned the win for South Carolina in relief pitching, finishing with two scoreless innings and two strikeouts.
“It took everything we had,” Kingston said. “It took a lot of heart, a lot of guts tonight, some big hits, some big homeruns, and I thought we did battle better again with two strikes…It was a good win for us.”
The Gamecocks will turn their attention to the Alabama Crimson Tide, who they'll face in a three-game SEC series. First pitches are at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, 7:00 p.m. on Friday and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. Thursday’s and Friday’s games can be viewed on the SEC Network.
“We are trying to make up ground,” Kingston said, referring to South Carolina’s 2-7 start in the SEC and its weekend series with Alabama. “We are not out of it by any stretch … there could be ten to eleven teams that make the NCAAs from our conference, so we need to try to continue to battle and find a way to get in that top ten or eleven, if not better.”