The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Gamecock baseball scores double-digit runs for 5th straight game in win over Queens

<p>Junior pitcher James Hicks throws a pitch to a Queens batter during the matchup between the Gamecocks and the Royals at Founders Park on Feb. 22, 2023. South Carolina beat Queens 12-0.</p>
Junior pitcher James Hicks throws a pitch to a Queens batter during the matchup between the Gamecocks and the Royals at Founders Park on Feb. 22, 2023. South Carolina beat Queens 12-0.

The No. 23 South Carolina baseball team scored double-digit runs in its fifth straight game with a 12-0 win over Queens on Wednesday afternoon, securing its longest double-digit scoring streak since March 1997.

The team’s first shutout of the season was a product of offensive momentum and bullpen depth for the Gamecocks. 

Redshirt junior pitcher James Hicks started for South Carolina and picked up his first win since missing most of the 2022 season after Tommy John surgery. Hicks struck out five batters in five innings, allowing just two hits and two walks.

"Overall, I feel really good,” Hicks said. "I just wanted to go out there and just pitch my game, just be relaxed." 

The Gamecocks continued their offensive dominance early, scoring two runs in each of the first three innings. 

Sophomore catcher Cole Messina recorded the first of the team’s 11 RBIs with a groundout to the Royals shortstop, allowing sophomore left fielder Carson Hornung to score. 

Later in the inning, senior shortstop Braylen Wimmer added to the South Carolina advantage by scoring on a wild pitch. 

In the bottom of the second, the Gamecocks loaded the bases with junior outfielder Caleb Denny up to bat. His ground-rule double to right-center field doubled South Carolina's lead. 

"These guys know that we have a lot of good baseball players on our team right now," head coach Mark Kingston said. "They know that they play hard, and they play together, and the results are showing. It's just a matter of, it's a good team, and we're playing well." 

In the third inning, junior first baseman Gavin Casas hit the team's 19th home run of the season. Casas' two-run home run, his fourth in 2023, put him in the team lead and broke a tie with four other Gamecocks for the most in the SEC.

"I knew they wanted me to ground out to a double play, so I was expecting a changeup," Casas said. "I got the changeup, and I was able to stay back on it and drive the other way." 

South Carolina hitters were less productive in the middle innings after a pitching change from Queens. Graduate pitcher Daniel Bagwell pitched two innings, holding the Gamecocks to only one hit and no runs. 

South Carolina was able to find their offensive momentum again in the seventh inning, scoring the last six runs of the game. The Gamecocks took advantage of a weakened Royals pitching staff that struggled to keep the bases clear. 

"We just try to win each pitch," Kingston said. "We have a stat that grades their pitch decisions and their swing decisions, and the guys that are the best at that tend to be the best hitters." 

Denny led the way with five runs batted in, and South Carolina is now hitting .374 as a team with a .777 slugging percentage. 

"Baseball is a funny game, and momentum is everything," Casas said. ”The way we continued the momentum after having a few slow innings, but that's just baseball." 

After Hicks left the game, the bullpen corps of sophomores Matthew Becker and Dylan Eskew and freshman Austin Williamson did not allow another hit in the game. They struck out a combined three hitters on top of Hicks’ five. 

"That's what we want out of our bullpen," Kingston said. "I thought Matthew was very good, and again, I still think he can be even better than he was, but it was his first time out there." 

The Gamecocks will look to add to their winning streak as they continue their nine-game homestand with the series opener against Penn at 4 p.m. on Friday. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.