Story by Matt Smith
Through two innings, it looked as though South Carolina was simply out of the Citadel’s weight class. But by the end of the night, the Bulldogs were toe to toe and trading blows with the heavyweight Gamecocks. After a nearly four-hour slugfest, it was South Carolina’s hand that was raised in a 10-9 decision.
South Carolina followed a two-run 1st inning with a five-run 2nd to build a 7-0 lead. Paired with its 9-0 thrashing of the Citadel earlier in the season, the Gamecocks had outscored the Bulldogs 16-0 over 11 innings. Perhaps many of the 3,923 in attendance thought the drama was over, but it was in Act II that the plot thickened.
The Citadel fought back with a run in the 3rd and four more in the 6th to close the gap to 9-5. Three runs in the eighth made it 10-9, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t threaten in the final half of the 9th.
As the night air cooled, so did the Carolina bats, as the Gamecocks scored just three runs over their final seven at-bats. It was the relief pitching, however, that was on Coach Mark Kingston’s mind after the game, “Our pitchers didn’t compete very well in the middle of the game … I want to see them throw more strikes, I want to see them get more outs, period. That wasn’t good enough.”
Most of the damage came against the middle relief, as Gamecock starter Daniel Lloyd had given up one run and exited after 2 1/3 innings to save his arm for the weekend series against the Bulldogs from Athens. Lloyd’s effort was good enough to earn the win and improve his record to 2-0.
After relievers John Gilreath and Cam Tringali yielded four runs, apiece, Parker Coyne and Gage Hinson slammed the door to secure the one-run victory. Hinson retired all four batters faced to pick up his first save.
Center fielder TJ Hopkins continued his tear, going 2 for 3 with two walks and two runs batted in. Catcher Luke Berryhill drove in four runs, two of which came on sacrifice flies. Shortstop George Callil, a defensive ace, showed some signs of growth at the plate going 2 for 3 with three runs scored. The Citadel’s Tyler Corbitt gave the Gamecocks fits as he rapped out three hits and drove in three runs.
It was an unusual game, featuring four hit batsmen, eleven pitching changes, a balk, four errors and South Carolina scoring 10 runs on just seven hits. Despite it all, South Carolina’ success against in-state foes continues as the Gamecocks run their record to 5-1 against teams from the Palmetto State and their overall mark to 14-3.
The Citadel has a long trip ahead as they pay a visit to Indiana State this weekend. South Carolina, meanwhile, opens SEC play Friday at home against Georgia.