It all came together for USC Sunday in a doubleheader sweep of #1 ranked Texas. Pitching, hitting (.344 for the series), hitting with runners on base and defense. The results? A 4-2 win in a seven-inning opener, and a 9-4 win in the nightcap. The Gamecocks snapped their five-game losing streak and, at least for one afternoon, looked like a team that can compete in the SEC.
The Gamecocks also beat Texas for the first time in history after seven straight losses to the Longhorns, including two in national championship games.
Will Sanders was the story in game one. He pitched six strong innings allowing four hits, two earned runs and struck out six. The Gamecocks broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth by loading the bases then getting consecutive sacrifice flies from Kevin Madden and Carson Hornung.
Both teams scored a run in the fifth. Sanders, with help from Michael Braswell in the seventh, made the lead hold up. The Longhorns did get a runner to second in the seventh with no one out thus bringing the tying run to the plate, but Braswell was able to end the game with a pair of ground outs and a fly ball from the dangerous Ivan Melendez.
Sanders earned the win to improve to 3-0 and Braswell earned his 3rd save. Braylen Wimmer had three of the Gamecocks’ six hits.
In game two, USC pieced together 14 singles, nine walks and a sacrifice fly in 9-4 victory. Starter Matthew Becker allowed one hit and struck out 11 over six innings as the Gamecocks built a 9-1 lead behind him. Becker, a freshman from Chapin, earned his first career victory.
The Gamecocks were 11-for-23 with runners on base and 7-for-15 with runner in scoring position. In game one, they were 3-for-9 and 3-for-6 in those categories.
The Gamecocks blew the game open with five runs in the fourth inning. They loaded the bases with one out. Brandt Belk walked to force in a run. Braswell singled up the middle for two more. Wimmer drove in the fourth run with a single up the middle. And Kevin Madden capped the outburst with a sacrifice fly.
USC is now 9-6 and will host Gardner-Webb Tuesday night before opening SEC play at Tennessee Friday night.