In SEC play this season, South Carolina baseball has had its issues scoring runs. That however, has not been the case in their midweek contests. Through ten games, the Gamecocks are averaging nine runs an outing, including Wednesday’s 7-6 victory over North Florida at Founders Park. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday but heavy rains in Columbia moved the contest to Wednesday afternoon.
The Ospreys, members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, jumped on Gamecock starting pitcher Jack Mahoney right out of the starting gate. Back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases for North Florida with the first run of the game coming home on a sacrifice fly by Cade Westbrook. The visitors from Jacksonville added to their lead on a bases loaded, fielder’s choice that ended the afternoon for Mahoney. The normally reliable freshman worked just two-thirds of an inning, allowing two runs on three hits with one walk. John Gilreath recorded a groundout to retire the side with North Florida holding a 2-0 lead.
South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston mentioned after the game that Mahoney had some tightness in his forearm. Adding that, “they weren’t going to take any chances”.
USC (27-15) quickly responded to the deficit as Braylen Wimmer led off the home half of the first inning with a solo homerun to centerfield. Wimmer’s eighth long ball of the season sliced North Florida’s lead in half, where it stayed for just three more batters. With one out and a runner at first, Wes Clarke launched his 17th homerun of the season to left centerfield, giving the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead after one inning of play.
Carolina added to its advantage in the second, plating a pair of runs on a base hit by catcher Colin Burgess. His only single of the day, scored both George Callil and Noah Myers to give USC a 5-2 edge after two.
North Florida reclaimed the lead in the fourth inning, sending nine men to the plate and scoring four times. RBI singles by Ricky Presno and Isaiah Byers, preceded a two run single off the bat of Alex Kachler, which pushed the Ospreys back in front 6-5 midway through the game.
USC responded one final time in the seventh inning with a pair of runs off the bat of Calill and a big mistake by North Florida. With two outs in the inning and runners at first and second, pinch hitter Connor Cino was awarded first base on a catcher’s interference call. The decision came on an 0-2 count and set the stage for Calill. The Australian delivered a two-run single to centerfield scoring both Clarke and Andrew Eyster to give the Gamecocks a 7-6 advantage. That was a lead USC would not relinquish as Magdiel Cotto and Julian Bosnic pitched three scoreless innings to close out the game. Cotto recorded his first win of the season, while Bosnic picked up his second save.
USC hosts 4th ranked Mississippi State in a critical SEC series at Founders Park this weekend. Friday’s game is set for 7pm with Saturday’s contest scheduled to begin at 4pm. The Mother’s Day finale is slated for a 2pm first pitch.