South Carolina sophomore right-hander Colby Holmes worked a career-high seven innings and struck out career-high seven batters and Christian Walker’s two run homer in the top of the sixth inning was enough to lift Carolina to a 2-0 victory over Tennessee in game two of a three-game SEC baseball series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. It was Carolina’s second straight shutout over Tennessee, as the Gamecocks clinch the series vs. the Volunteers. The series finale is set for Noon on Saturday with the game televised live on SportSouth.
Holmes was stellar the entire night as he limited Tennessee to just three hits and no walks. He is now 3-0 on the year. Senior right-hander John Taylor worked 1.2 scoreless innings and had two strikeouts and sophomore closer Matt Price came on to preserve the game with a strikeout to pick up his ninth save of the season, second of the series. Tennessee starter Steven Gruver had a quality outing but suffered the loss. He is now 3-4 for the season. He allowed two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk in eighth innings pitched.
“(Colby) has been throwing the ball really well but that’s a spectacular performance no question about it, on the road against a good offensive club,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “I thought he got stronger as the game went on. An outstanding performance two days in a row, our pitching staff has been as good as you can be.”
Early on, Tennessee tried to get to Holmes with a pair of doubles in the first and second inning. Khayyan Norfork led off with a double in the first but was stranded as Holmes retired the next three batters. Chris Fritts had a two-out double in the second but Holmes struck out Matt Ramsey for his first strikeout of the game to end the frame.
From then on Holmes, was tough as he allowed just three baserunners the rest of the way and put together six strikeouts from the third inning to the seventh inning.
Gruver limited the Gamecocks but Carolina made its move in the top of the sixth. Peter Mooney opened the sixth inning with a single to right field. He would be sacrificed over to second base by Scott Wingo. With two outs and a 1-0 count, Walker crushed Gruver’s pitch deep over the left-centerfield wall for his team-leading seventh home run of the year putting Carolina ahead 2-0.
From there it was Holmes and the bullpen that led the way. After a leadoff hit by pitch against Chris Fritts in the top of the eighth, Taylor came on and promptly got pinch hitter Matt Ramsey to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Taylor would end that frame with a ground out and struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth before a two-out walk to Matt Duffy. That would prompt the move to the pen for Price, who needed only four pitches to end the game with a strikeout on Charley Thurber and sealing Carolina’s victory.
South Carolina has won all eight three-game series it has played this year and the Gamecocks have now won five straight series against Tennessee.