After the Gamecocks' 2021 season has been dominated by clutch hitting, the South Carolina pitching staff took over this weekend on the way to a series sweep over Mercer at Founders Park.
The No. 14 South Carolina baseball team totaled 37 strikeouts and only allowed one run across the plate.
The South Carolina Gamecocks showed how multi-dimensional they can be in their 5-1 win over Mercer University on Friday night as defense carried them to their eighth win of the season.
The Gamecocks have shined offensively in the last seven games, especially on March 2 where the team outscored Winthrop 19-8, but this game gave them the opportunity to show their power on defense. South Carolina held Mercer to only one run on six hits.
While a potential home run from sophomore Mercer outfielder Collin Price almost gave the Bears some momentum in the sixth inning, the ball was ultimately ruled a foul ball. This left the score 4-1, with the Bears unable to make anything happen offensively in the final three innings.
The South Carolina bullpen showed their depth with 11 strikeouts and only six hits with four walks. Junior right-hander Andrew Peters was valuable for the Gamecocks, not allowing any hits in the seventh and eighth innings and retiring five of the seven batters he faced.
Head coach Mark Kingston has been impressed with Peters' control and command so far this season, saying Peters has “become a very key guy” for the Gamecocks.
Offensively, sophomore second baseman Braylen Wimmer recorded his fourth home run of the season with a one-run homer in the fourth inning.
Wimmer has not been surprised by his success this season, saying that he has “worked [his] butt off” in the weight room and during the off-season with the help of the rest of the team.
Junior catcher Wes Clarke also had a productive day for the Gamecocks with two runs and one hit with only two at-bats. Junior left-fielder Josiah Sightler and junior first baseman David Mendham also brought in runs for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks "struggled a little bit again" with offense on Saturday, which is something the team will “continue to look at,” Kingston said. Despite this, the Gamecocks were able to win 4-0 powered by stellar pitching performances from the starter and bullpen.
In the first inning, the Gamecocks started out hot at the plate with Sightler hitting a no-doubt solo shot in his first at-bat of the night.
Graduate third baseman Joe Satterfield ripped a two-RBI double down the line in his first career start as a Gamecock. While they were able to plate three in the first, the team was only able to scratch across one more run the rest of the game.
Fortunately for the Gamecocks, the pitchers seemingly shut down Mercer’s offense for all nine innings.
Senior right-handed pitcher Brannon Jordan started on the bump and put in five innings of work without surrendering a run. In doing this he retired 11 batters via the strikeout and only gave up one hit.
It was a “great outing,” Kingston said, who hopes he “can really build on” this performance going forward this season.
While Jordan seemed to be successful in his goal to “enforce the pace” the entire game, he said the “third inning was definitely the inning that I started to roll.” Kingston pointed out the same thing, saying all Jordan's pitches were sharper in the third, fourth and fifth.
The last four innings were split between freshman left-handed pitcher Jackson Phipps, freshman right-handed pitcher Will Sanders and junior right-handed pitcher Brett Kerry. The trio completed the shutout, which was no surprise to Jordan because “they all come in and throw a lot of strikes,” he said.
Game three was no exception for South Carolina pitching as the Gamecocks struck out 16 Bears on the way to a 1-0 win over Mercer on Sunday afternoon.
The Gamecocks were led on the mound by sophomore starter Julian Bosnic with nine strikeouts and no allowed hits through 5.2 innings of work. Kerry and Jack Mahoney closed out the strong pitching performance with three and four strikeouts respectively.
“It was really good,” Bosnic said. “Lost command there a couple times but to go five and two-thirds with not my best stuff is good to set our team up in a good position to get a win.”
South Carolina was close to completing a no-hitter as Bosnic did his job on the mound into the sixth and Mahoney continued the bid through 1.6 innings but the bid was put to an end in the eighth with a two-out single from Mercer. The Bears finished the game with only two hits.
South Carolina’s lone run came from an RBI groundout from Satterfield in the fourth as Mendham scored from third. Other than that, the Gamecock offense had a tough time putting together timely hits against Mercer starter Jackson Kelley.
South Carolina left four stranded in scoring position throughout the game and only garnered four hits against the sophomore righty. This made the Gamecocks’ stellar pitching even more important in a game where the South Carolina bats struggled.
The Gamecocks will make their way down to Charleston on Wednesday to take on The Citadel. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.