COLUMBIA, S.C. — There had to be a feeling of “finally” for South Carolina baseball on Saturday, but also a wonder of why it took this long.
The Gamecocks scored double-digit runs for the first time in a home SEC game this season — and just the second time in SEC play overall — against Georgia, posting a blowout win in the regular-season finale.
The Gamecocks (31-23, 13-17 SEC) scored in six straight innings, posting 12 hits and 10 runs for a 10-0 win against Georgia, wrapping up their regular season and getting ready for the SEC Tournament on Tuesday.
“We certainly haven’t had a game like this in the league since maybe the first weekend against Tennessee,” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said. “The league games have been awfully hard. They have been very close, all of them. All we could do today is control today. We played well today.”
The win provided South Carolina its largest margin of victory in an SEC game since a 19-2 win against Tennessee on April 7, 2013. It was the second time South Carolina scored 10 runs in an SEC game this season and the first since March 19, 2017, at Tennessee, giving the Gamecocks some momentum heading into a 10:30 am ET Tuesday game against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament.
Jonah Bride led the way with three hits and three runs, while three Gamecocks had multiple hits on the type of afternoon that they have long been waiting for throughout a frustrating season.
“It was definitely a great feeling to get out and continue to extend our lead like that,” Bride said. “Twelve hits, 10 runs, that’s exciting. Let’s take it to Hoover.”
On the mound, the Gamecocks posted their fourth shutout of the season, a dominant outing strung together by starter Colby Lee and relievers Colie Bowers, Tyler Johnson and Graham Lawson.
“It’s tough to put that responsibility like that on a freshman who hadn’t been in the game like this too many times,” Holbrook said of Lee. “He pitched well. The ball was sinking and running and it was hard to square him up. Obviously, he has a bright future when he controls the strike zone. If he continues to learn how to pitch he’s going to do good things here.”
South Carolina hopped out to a 3-0 lead in the third, as the Gamecocks strung together an impressive offensive inning. Danny Blair led off with an infield single and Justin Row followed with a walk.
LT Tolbert’s sacrifice fly brought home Blair. Riley Hogan roped a double down the left-field line for a two-out double, scoring Row. John Jones followed suit with an RBI single to right and a 3-0 lead.
The Gamecocks tacked on a run in each of the next two innings, with Jonah Bride coming around to score on a double-error from Georgia second baseman LJ Talley in the fourth and Carlos Cortes scoring on a wild pitch in the fifth.
Row posted a big double down the left-field line in the sixth, plating Bride and Jacob Olson for a 7-0 lead. Row came around to score on another Talley error, as the UGA sophomore couldn’t cleanly come up with a hard-hit Carlos Cortes grounder.
South Carolina added to its lead with three straight hits in the eighth. Bride led off with a bloop single, Olson ripped a single to left and Blair’s shallow pop fly fell safely to score Bride for an RBI double and a 9-0 lead.
The Gamecocks reached the 10-run mark on an RBI groundout from Alex Destino — the lone starter without a hit — to score Hogan in the eighth.
Afterward, the Gamecocks noted it’s a great feeling to win in such a manner. But there’s no time to celebrate and they know what lies ahead. South Carolina will need a long run in the SEC Tournament if it wants to revive its postseason chances after a tough regular season.
But at least for Saturday, South Carolina had good feelings in its home finale after a long, tiring season.
“Sometimes you lose some heartbreakers and lose some tough games and some of the goals you set forth aren’t going to be realized in the regular season,” Holbrook said. “Sometimes you wonder how they’ll show up. Our players showed a lot of pride for the uniform they wear and the program they’re a part of and played a great game today. For that I’m proud.”
What’s next for South Carolina baseball
The Gamecocks play in the SEC Tournament next, opening on Tuesday.