USC desperately needed something positive to happen and desperately needed a win. The 8th ranked Gamecocks got both Sunday in a 10-7 win over #2 Texas A&M. USC snapped a four game SEC slide and gave themselves a puncher’s chance the SEC regular season title heading into the final weekend. More importantly, it gave the Gamecocks some much needed confidence.
Chad Holbrook said he was concerned heading into this game because of the recent struggles. He saw some frazzled faces on the players after Saturday night’s loss to the Aggies. When he arrived at the ball park Sunday Holbrook shared a couple of stories with his team. He told them about the 2010 College World Series team that finished the season with a thud, losing at home to Florida then going 0-2 in the SEC Tournament. That team was down 5-1 against Bucknell in the NCAA Regional before rallying and going on what ended up being a historic run.
Holbrook also broke one of his traditions and shared another piece of information with his players. Each preseason Holbrook writes down a the number of SEC wins he thinks his team will get and seals it in an envelop that he doesn’t open until the end of the year. He decided to open it early and share with his team that they had already exceeded his expectations in league play. The point was to let them know they shouldn’t be playing with any pressure.
Maybe it was those tidbits, or maybe it was the baseball gods evening things out, but the Gamecocks answered the bell. After struggling to come up with the big hit, or really any kind of offense, USC went 5 for 12 with runners in scoring position and set a season high with five sacrifice bunts. Two of those bunts were squeeze plays that each generated a run.
Then there was Dom Thompson-Williams. He hit two homers, including a monster shot in the third inning that gave USC the lead back and gave them a spark of energy they haven’t had in a few games. DTW finished 3-3 with a pair of walks, four runs scored and three RBI. His homer in the 2nd inning was his first since March 12th; he now has six this season.
Josh Reagan came on in relief starter Adam Hill with two outs in the third and pitched 4 1/3 innings of three hit ball to earn his second win of the season. He gave up three hits, one of them a solo homer, and allowed two earn runs. Taylor Widener pitched 1 2/3 innings before running into some trouble in the 9th when he gave up a two 2-run homer. Tyler Johnson came on for the final out and earned his sixth save of the season.
USC is 38-13 and 17-9 in the SEC. They are one game behind Florida for the league lead. Texas A&M has a half game lead on them in the overall standings. USC wraps up at Alabama next week. The Crimson Tide is fresh off a sweep over Arkansas. Florida is at LSU to wrap up its SEC slate; Texas A&M is home against Ole Miss.
USC wraps up its non-conference and regular season home slate Tuesday at home against The Citadel.