COLUMBIA, S.C. — When South Carolina baseball needed a big hit — or a hit at all — on Tuesday night, Jonah Bride was the one coming through for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks had only three hits, but they made all three count and Bride’s pair in the late innings Tuesday was enough. The junior third baseman doubled in back-to-back innings, getting South Carolina’s first hit and most important hit to lift the Gamecocks (23-13) to a 3-2 win against Davidson.
“Jonah was the right man in the right spot tonight,” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said. “We don’t win the game without him. He’s just a baseball player, knows the situation at hand. He tries to go and execute what the pitcher is giving to him.”
Bride led off the seventh inning with a double to right-center two pitches after narrowly missing a homer down the left-field line. It was South Carolina’s first hit, as Davidson starter Josh Hudson shut down the Gamecocks for six innings.
In the eighth, Bride came up with Alex Destino standing at second in a 2-2 game and pulled a double down the left-field line to get South Carolina over the hump and into the lead.
Closer Tyler Johnson came in to work the ninth inning for the second straight game, converting his first save since March 3 against Clemson.
The Gamecocks couldn’t get any offense going against Hudson early, as they barely had solid contact against the starter who entered with an 8.82 ERA with opponents hitting .310 against him this season.
Bride said the Gamecocks didn’t really talk about the fact they were being no-hit until around the fifth inning. But hitting coach Stuart Lake had a pointed reminder of the way the game can turn for a team.
“He said, ‘I’ve seen no-hitters in the fifth inning and I’ve also seen teams get 10 hits after that. You just have to take some confidence in the box then go in there and do what you do,’” Bride said.
Bride finally broke through in the seventh, opening the door for the Gamecocks to sneak out the close win.
South Carolina loaded the bases on a Matt Williams walk and a John Jones hit by pitch, setting the stage for Jacob Olson. Olson fell behind 0-2, but worked the count back full before lining a two-run single to right-center to tie the game.
Destino led off the eighth with a walk, advancing to second on an LT Tolbert sacrifice bunt. Bride sent a 1-0 pitch down the left-field line to bring Destino around to score easily, giving the Gamecocks a one-run advantage that would be enough on a night when offense was nearly impossible to come by.
Davidson took the lead against starter Cody Morris with a pair of solo homers in the fourth inning. Morris was outstanding through the first three innings, setting down the first eight batters in order with four strikeouts.
“I thought he threw extremely well,” Holbrook said. “He became one-dimensional when they got to him a little bit and lost command of his offspeed stuff. He had a lot better command of his fastball today. It was good to see.”
Davidson’s Will Robertson and Brian Fortier took Morris deep in the fourth, with Robertson hitting his sixth homer in the past nine games.
Colby Lee, Reed Scott, Colie Bowers and Johnson combined for 5.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing four hits and striking out eight Wildcats. The Gamecocks have won two in a row heading into a key weekend series at Florida, with the two teams tied for second in the SEC East behind division-leading Kentucky.
“It certainly makes the bus ride a little bit better tomorrow,” Holbrook said. “We have a monumental task in front of us this weekend. We needed to win. We need to win. We have maybe lost some we should have won. Every game now, whether its midweek or conference is magnified of huge importance. It was big that we found a way to get this one tonight.”
What’s next for South Carolina baseball
South Carolina travels to Florida for a critical SEC series beginning Thursday with Clarke Schmidt on the bump for the Gamecocks.