USC baseball has a rich tradition of outstanding teams. Two national championship clubs, a 56-10 campaign in 2000, even a 4-0 unbeaten season in 1893. However, none of those squads started the season as well as this year’s Gamecocks. USC used a 7-run sixth to blow past The Citadel 13-2 in seven innings at Joe Riley Park in Charleston on Tuesday night. The win improved Carolina to 24-2 on the season, matching the best 26-game start in program history. The 1975 Gamecocks opened the year 30-2, before finishing 51-6-1. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 14-10 overall heading into a Southern Conference series at Samford this weekend.
The Citadel got on the board first, pulling off a double steal in the bottom of the opening inning. With two outs and runners at first and third, Wells Sykes took off for second, while Thomas Rollauer charged towards home. Both runners were safe, giving the home-standing Bulldogs their only advantage of the game.
Carolina grabbed the lead with a four-spot in the 3rd inning, utilizing the biggest tool in its arsenal. Following a Talmadge LeCroy sacrifice fly, Caleb Denny blasted a two-run home run over the wall in center field to up the advantage to 4-1.
The visitors increased their lead to 6-2 before breaking the game wide open in the sixth inning. The seven-run frame featured a two-run ground rule double from Evan Stone and a three-run home run off the bat of Gavin Casas. USC’s two home runs bring the Gamecocks’ season total to sixty-six. Carolina entered the week leading the nation in that category, just ahead of Florida (61).
And with a short week as USC travels to Mississippi State for a three-game SEC series beginning Thursday, the Gamecocks flexed a good bit of their pitching depth. Seven pitchers threw one inning a piece, with Zach Zedalis getting credit for the win. The Bulldogs were unable to solve the revolving door on the mound as they recorded their two runs on just four hits. Fisher Paulsen took the loss for The Citadel, allowing four runs on two hits in just a third of an inning.