Sixth ranked South Carolina broke a 4-4 tie with a pair of runs in the sixth inning and an insurance run in the eighth and freshman right-hander Braden Webb struck out 10 batters in 7.1 innings of work to pick up his seventh win of the year as the Gamecocks defeated Tennessee 7-4 on Saturday afternoon to clinch the weekend series. Carolina is 27-5 and 9-2 in the SEC with Tennessee dropping to 18-13 and 3-8 in league play.
Tied at 4-4 entering the bottom of the sixth, Chris Cullen and TJ Hopkins each walked to give Carolina a pair of runners. After a successful sac bunt by DC Arendas moved both runners into scoring position, Marcus Mooney drove in Cullen with a RBI infield single. With runners on the corners and a ball in the dirt, Mooney began to break for second base. Tennessee catcher Benito Santiago threw down to first base and Mooney got caught in a rundown, but kept it going long enough to allow Hopkins to score and give Carolina a two-run lead. Carolina made it 7-4 in the eighth loading the bases with two outs with Hopkins scoring on a hit by pitch that allowed LT Tolbert to reach base.
Webb is now 7-1 on the year. He allowed four runs on seven hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. Junior right-hander Reed Scott pitched 1.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn his first save of the year. Tennessee left-hander Zach Warren suffered the loss and is 4-3 for the season. He allowed six runs, two earned, on eight hits in seven innings with three walks and threes strikeouts.
Tennessee would go ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Chris Hall was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Vincent Jackson’s two-out RBI single.
Carolina answered though in the bottom half of the first with four runs to take a 4-1 lead. Gene Cone reached base to lead off the inning on a dropped fly ball by left fielder Vincent Jackson. With two outs, Dom Thompson-Williams walked to give the Gamecocks runners on first and second base. Jonah Bride would deliver as he knocked a RBI single to right field to score Cone. Chris Cullen followed with a RBI double down the right field line to score both runners and TJ Hopkins knocked a RBI single to right field scoring Cullen.
The Volunteers responded with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning to cut the Carolina lead to 4-3. Max Bartlett and Derek Lance each tallied one-out RBI singles. Tennessee tied it at 4-4 in the fifth inning. Chris Hall singled with one out, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Jackson’s two-out bloop RBI single to center.
The two-run sixth inning that featured a RBI single from Mooney followed by the rundown that scored Hopkins.
South Carolina’s 6-9 hitters (Cullen, Hopkins, Arendas and Mooney) combined to go 5-for-13 with four runs and four runs batted in.
Gene Cone extended his hitting streak to 18 games. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Dom Thompson-Williams was 2-for-3 with a run scored with TJ Hopkins going 2-for-3- with two run scored and Chris Cullen 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI.
South Carolina is now 21-1 at home on the year. The Gamecocks are 26-0 when leading after six innings and 18-1 when scoring six or more runs. South Carolina is 9-3 in games decided by three runs or less.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
That was another game that could have gone either way. After the first two innings it was kind of nip and tuck. Through the middle I thought Braden Webb, after having getting off to a little bit of a rough start, really settled down. He got a little bit stronger as the game went on. He certainly had better command and he changed the way he was attacking the hitters in the middle part of the game. I think that held them at bay a little bit. Then Reed Scott came in and threw the ball really well. It was a big game for us from a pitching standpoint. We needed Braden Webb to go deep into the game because our bullpen was stretched a little bit thin last night. Braden obviously went very deep into the game and then Reed was able to finish it off. Obviously it was a big win, all of them are in this league. Hopefully our bullpen will be a little bit fresher tomorrow and maybe we can play our best game of the weekend, that is what I have challenged the guys to do.
The series concludes on Sunday with first pitch at 1:30 p.m. at Founders Park.