South Carolina sophomore right-hander Clarke Schmidt hurled his second career complete game and allowed just one run on five hits with 10 strikeouts as the second ranked Gamecocks defeated Georgia 3-1 on Friday night in the series opener at Foley Field. The Gamecocks improve to 29-6 and 11-2 in the SEC with Georgia dropping to 18-17 and 4-9 in league play.
Schmidt, who went eight innings at Vanderbilt two weeks ago for his first career complete game, reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time this season. He has 80 strikeouts on the year. He is now 8-1 on the year. It was the first nine inning complete game on the road by a Gamecock pitcher since Sam Dyson, May 15, 2010 at Arkansas. Georgia starter Robert Tyler suffered the loss and is 3-1 on the season. He allowed three runs, one earned, on three hits in 3.1 innings with four walks and five strikeouts.
South Carolina went ahead 1-0 in the top of the 2nd inning. Alex Destino led off with a walk. After advancing with two outs to third base on a wild pitch, he would score as Chris Cullen knocked a 3-2 pitch up the middle for a RBI base hit.
Carolina increased the lead to 2-0 with an unearned run in the third inning. Marcus Mooney reached base to open the frame on a fielding error by Georgia second baseman LJ Talley. A base hit from Gene Cone to left field and a bunt for a base hit by LT Tolbert loaded the bases. With one out, Alex Destino lifted a sac fly to left-center to score Mooney, who made a great slide to beat UGA catcher Michael Talley’s tag to home plate.
The Gamecocks would score another unearned run to take a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. Cullen led off with a walk with Mooney drawing a one-out walk as well. That would end the night for Tyler as right-hander Heath Holder replaced him. Holder would walk Cone to load the bases. Carolina then took advantage of Georgia’s second error as Holder threw wild on a fielder’s choice home attempting to force Cullen at home plate giving the Gamecocks a three-run lead.
Georgia got on the board in the fourth inning on a two-out solo home run by Daniel Nichols, his fifth of the season for the Bulldogs.
That would be it though for Georgia as Schmidt kept the Bulldogs contained for the rest of the night. After a base hit by Trevor Kieboom in the fourth inning, Schmidt retired 14 in a row before a one-out infield single by Keegan McGovern in the ninth. Schmidt dug deep though and struck out Keegan McGovern and ended the game on a groundout by Nichols to Mooney at short to preserve Carolina’s victory.
Both teams had five hits on the night with Cone leading the way with a 2-for-4 day at the plate. The Bulldogs committed four errors.
Cullen’s two-out RBI single set the tone for the Gamecocks at the plate in the second as it began the scoring as Carolina added runs in the third and fourth inning as well.
Schmidt did not walk a batter and limited Georgia to five hits while the Bulldogs walked six to go along with five hits and allowed the Gamecocks to reach base four times on errors.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
Obviously the difference in the game was Clarke Schmidt and the way that we played defense behind him. It was a big win for us after not feeling so great about ourselves after our performance in the middle of the week. We knew this game was important. It’s a league game, on the road and facing a guy that is going in the first five picks of the first round probably this year. He has electric stuff, throwing it in there 97-98 mph. Yea we could have done more offensively, but I loved what we did against him in the first four innings from a plate approach standpoint and a competition standpoint. We had some real good at bats against a real good pitcher. We did enough to win.
RHP Clarke Schmidt
I think I had a lot more life on my fastball. This is a big game to me, being in my home state. I wanted to come out here and show everybody that, this team – that 15-0 loss we had in midweek – we are going to put that behind us and we are going to play with a chip on our shoulder. I wanted to go out here and work ahead in the counts and throw the pitches I want to throw. I felt like I did a good job with that. It makes it a lot easier, especially with a defense (like ours) behind (me).
Game two of the series with Georgia is Saturday at 6 p.m. at Foley Field.
Check out what Chad Holbrook had to say via GoGamecocks.com here.