All nine position starters for third ranked South Carolina had at least one hit with Christian Walker having a career night going 5-for-6 with a grand slam and five RBI as the Gamecocks defeated USC Upstate 18-2 on Tuesday evening in non-conference action at Carolina Stadium. Carolina improves to 23-5 while the loss drops USC Upstate to 11-19 for the season.
The Gamecock offense pounded out 20 hits in the victory. In addition to Walker’s five-hit evening, five more Carolina players tallied multi-hit games. Peter Mooney, Adrian Morales, Brady Thomas, Evan Marzilli and Robert Beary had two hits apiece. Walker’s five hits bested his previous career-high of four that he set twice last year. His five RBI tied a career-high that he set last year vs. Duquesne.
Sophomore right-hander Patrick Sullivan earned his first career win in his first career start. Sullivan went a career-high five innings and allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out a career-high six batters. He retired 10 consecutive batters before giving way to the bullpen.
South Carolina batted around to score five runs in the bottom of the first inning. Peter Mooney led off with a walk and Scott Wingo followed with a two-run homer to right field, his third home run of the season. Christian Walker kept the offense going with a base hit and after advancing on a wild pitch scored on Adrian Morales’ RBI single. Brady Thomas would drive in Morales with a RBI base hit and designated hitter Greg Brodzinski tallied his first career RBI with a ground out to score Thomas.
USC Upstate got a run back in the top of the second inning. Anthony Vacca walked with two outs and after a single by Grason Wiggins advanced him to second base, scored on Tyler Miller’s RBI base hit to left field. South Carolina, however, would respond with a pair of runs to build the lead up to 7-1. Scott Wingo drew a leadoff walk followed by a base hit by Christian Walker that fell between the center fielder and second baseman. With runners on the corners and one out, USC Upstate reliever Chris Knauff threw a wild pitch allowing Wingo to score. Jake Williams then knocked a RBI base hit to left-center scoring Walker.
Carolina increased the lead to 9-1 in the third inning as Evan Marzilli led off with a single, stole second base and after a hit by pitch against Scott Wingo, scored on a RBI double by Christian Walker. Heads up base running by Wingo gave the Gamecocks a second run as after the play when USC Upstate tried to nab Walker at second, the Gamecock senior rushed home to score Carolina’s ninth run of the game.
The Gamecocks reached double digit in runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Adrian Morales led off with a double and scored on Brady Thomas’ one-out RBI single to right-center. South Carolina increased the lead to 16-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Carolina batted around for the second time in the game. Brodzinski was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh followed by walks to Mooney and Wingo that loaded the bases. With reliever Jake Waller into the game, Christian Walker greeted the left-hander with a grand slam to left field, the first grand slam of the year by a Gamecock player. Marzilli and Mooney added RBI base hits in the frame as well. USC Upstate would get a single run in the eighth inning to make it 16-2 as Austin Liput tallied a RBI base hit. Carolina completed the scoring in the bottom of the eighth as Jake Watson drove in two runs with a double.
South Carolina junior outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. did not play on Tuesday night. Bradley injured his back on Monday in the weight room. His status is uncertain at this time.
South Carolina will be back in action on Thursday as the Gamecocks begin a three-game SEC series at Tennessee. First pitch for the opener is 7:30 p.m. and it is the inaugural SEC Game of the Week on ESPNU. Game two of the series is on Friday at 6 p.m. with the series finale on Saturday at Noon. Saturday’s game will be televised live on SportSouth.