Thanks to an outstanding performance from freshman pitcher Will Sanders, the South Carolina baseball team came away with an 8-3 victory over The Citadel on Tuesday night at Founders Park.
Sanders finished the night with 10 strikeouts and allowed just one walk through his five innings of work. Sanders had a no-hitter until the fifth inning, when the Bulldogs hit a homer — Sanders’ lone allowed hit of the night.
“As long as our energy is good, then we’re really hard to beat,” Sanders said. “I think that what I was trying to do, at least, was give my team a couple innings of solid and make sure everything was on point.”
The South Carolina offense also contributed to the midweek victory, as six different Gamecocks garnered at least one hit, totaling nine hits against the Bulldogs. This offensive firepower was prevalent early on in the ballgame.
The Gamecocks used a combination of steals and extra-base hits, taking advantage of Bulldog mistakes to build their lead. South Carolina accumulated three extra-base hits and one unearned run in the first three innings, which helped the Gamecocks jump out to a 6-0 lead.
This early scoring spree included a two-run homer from junior infielder Wes Clarke in the second for his 11th home run of the year. Senior infielder Jeff Heinrich also highlighted the first few innings with a three-RBI double in the third.
“I thought [the early offensive start] was really good, especially when you have a freshman pitcher on the mound,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “You want to be able to have him be comfortable … It really allows your freshman to settle in and just attack the zone.”
South Carolina continued to score in every inning until the sixth inning, after which the Gamecocks did not score again.
The Gamecock bullpen also put on quite a performance against The Citadel, adding six more strikeouts to the pitching staff’s total. The bullpen was led by junior righty Daniel Lloyd, who accounted for four strikeouts and allowed one hit in two innings.
Sanders and Lloyd were also able to slow down Bulldogs senior outfielder Jeffery Brown, who had South Carolina’s number in the first meeting between the two teams.
Brown went 5-for-5 against the Gamecocks on Mar. 10 but was held to a 0-for-3 mark against the pitching duo less than two weeks later.
The Gamecocks will now turn their attention to this weekend’s SEC series against No. 5 Florida. The Gators are rolling into Columbia off a three-game sweep of Texas A&M last weekend.
First pitch for Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. and can be streamed on SEC Network Plus.