One weekend after being swept at Auburn, USC turned the tables on the Tigers in-state rivals with a three-game sweep of Alabama at Founders Park. The Gamecocks completed their first SEC series sweep of the season Saturday with an 11-5 win over the Crimson Tide.
Will Sanders (6-2) pitched seven strong innings to earn the victory and the Gamecock offense matched their season high with 14 hits. They also drew five walks and were hit five times by pitches.
Alabama jumped on Sanders for two runs in the top of the first, but the Gamecocks responded in the bottom of the inning with three runs and never trailed from there. Andrew Eyster, who had a career high six RBIs, had a two-run single and later scored on an RBI double by Michael Braswell.
Eyster’s two-run homer in the third, his eighth of the season, made it a 5-2 game. He picked up another RBI in the fourth with a slow bouncer to the pitcher that scored Evan Stone from third. Talmadge LeCroy later singled to left scoring two more runs for an 8-2 Gamecock lead. And Kevin Madden made it a 9-2 game with an RBI single up the middle in the fifth.
All the while, Sanders was cruising. He allowed just a walk from the second through the fifth innings. He struck out five during that stretch including the side in the fifth. Alabama did get to Sanders in the sixth on a three-run homer by Dominick Tamez to cut the lead to 9-5.
Sanders got out of the inning with a double-play grounder to short, and stranded runners at first and second in the seventh with a strikeout to end the inning and his day at 107 pitches. He allowed seven hits and five runs while striking out eight and walking two.
Mathew Becker and Cade Austin pitched the eighth and ninth innings respectively with Austin allowing the only hit, a two-out single that he stranded with a strikeout to end the game.
Eyster picked up his sixth and final RBI of the game in the bottom of the seventh with a one out double, and Brandt Belk closed out the scoring with an eighth inning sacrifice fly.
Eyster, Madden and Braylen Wimmer each had three hits, and LeCroy joined Eyster with multiple RBIs driving in two.
The Gamecocks are 22-20 and 9-12 in the SEC. Alabama is 25-20 and 9-12 in the league. USC currently sits in 4th place in the SEC East with league series left at Texas A&M and Florida sandwiched around a home series with Kentucky.