The USC baseball team opened its national title defense with a 12-5 win over Santa Clara Friday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. A sellout crowd of 8,242 was on hand to celebrate last year’s national championship run and welcome in the new season.
Last year’s College World Series MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up where he left off in Omaha. Bradley was 4-4 with two doubles, and a homerun. He drove in three runs. Bradley was one of three Gamecocks to go deep with the new composite bats. Christian Walker and Scott Wingo also went deep.
Mike Roth pitched 5 2/3 innings to earn the win on the mound. He allowed four hits and two earned runs and struck out six.
Roth left the game with Carolina leading 6-2 and seemingly coasting to a season opening victory. Things did get dicey in the eighth inning though. Steven Neff came on in relief and gave up three runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. He left the game with one out in the eighth inning with the Gamecocks clinging to a 6-5 lead.
John Taylor held the lead by getting an inning ending double play to preserve the one run lead. The Gamecocks scored six in the bottom of the eighth to put the game away and send the fans home happy.
The series resumes tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks will send sophomore lefty Tyler Webb to the mound. Santa Clara will start senior right hander Cory Hall.