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Analysis: No. 19 Թϱ baseball uses pitching, plate discipline to defeat Gardner-Webb

<p>Fifth-year pitcher Ty Good throws the ball during South Carolina's matchup against Gardner-Webb on Feb. 27, 2024. Light rain showers persisted throughout the Gamecocks' 7-1 victory over the Runnin' Bulldogs, extending the game for nearly 20 minutes.</p>
Fifth-year pitcher Ty Good throws the ball during Թϱ's matchup against Gardner-Webb on Feb. 27, 2024. Light rain showers persisted throughout the Gamecocks' 7-1 victory over the Runnin' Bulldogs, extending the game for nearly 20 minutes.

The No. 19 Թϱ baseball team came out on top, 7-1, in its midweek matchup against Gardner-Webb to improve to 8-1 on the season. 

The Gamecocks started the game trailing as freshman pitcher Eddie Copper surrendered a solo home run in the top of the second inning, giving the Bulldogs an early lead. 

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Թϱ had a tough time getting runners on base in the first couple of innings until an offensive outburst in the fifth inning, highlighted by senior first baseman Gavin Casas. Casas launched a huge 3-run home run to put the Gamecocks up by 5 runs.

Copper finished strong as he didn’t allow any more runs in this contest and retired his final five batters. He finished with five strikeouts in his five innings of work. 

“He’s comfortably our Tuesday guy right now. Five innings on 61 pitches for a freshman is incredible,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “We’ll just continue to run him out there on that role and let him hopefully continue to get better and better.” 

The bullpen did its job shutting down Gardner-Webb as it only allowed two hits in the final four innings, helping the Gamecocks to hold the lead. 

Թϱ now heads into the weekend to face in-state rival Clemson. Here are three takeaways the Gamecocks can carry into the Palmetto Series.

Bats heat up at the right time

Թϱ struggled to get anything going early on, only tallying two hits in the first four innings. This was until the fifth inning when the Gamecocks put up all 7 of its runs to take the lead. 

The Gamecocks got three consecutive walks before junior infielder Talmadge LeCroy was hit by a pitch, which tied the game up at one. Senior infielder Tyler Causey gave Թϱ the lead with a sacrifice fly, which scored sophomore outfielder Ethan Petry from third base. 

Fifth-year infielder Parker Noland reached base three times in the game. Noland came up in the fifth and recorded an RBI single up the middle to bring another run home. 

The Gamecocks then began to pull away after Casas hit a towering home run to right field to bring in three runs, his first home run of the season, giving the Gamecocks a 6-1 lead. 

“The home run felt great,” Casas said. “I just saw a spin and kind of put a good swing on it.” 

Still in the fifth inning, Petry came up again and drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Gamecocks a 7-1 lead. 

Թϱ didn’t score any more runs after the fifth inning, but the bullpen proved it didn't need to. 

Pitching keeps on delivering

Following Copper's start, fifth-year pitcher Ty Good came in and picked up where Copper left off. Good pitched two innings of scoreless ball for the Gamecocks. He didn’t give up any hits and struck out two batters. 

The Gamecocks then turned to junior pitcher Tyler Dean and sophomore pitcher Connor McCreery to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. The two closed the door on Gardner-Webb, only giving up two hits and not allowing any runs. 

“I also think our pitching and defense was at a very high level tonight," Kingston said. "Copper, Good, Dean (and) McCreery all were excellent. It might have been our best defensive outing of the year.”  

The pitching staff shut down the Bulldogs, as it finished with only allowing five hits and 1 run in the contest. The Gamecocks combined for eight strikeouts and only allowed three walks. 

Walks continue to benefit Gamecocks

Թϱ leads the entire country in drawn walks, which has been a huge part of the Gamecocks' early offensive success. 

Today, the Gamecocks were able to get 10 free passes. Five of these walks came in its seven-run fifth inning, which helped set the table for Noland's and Casas’ RBIs that gave the Gamecocks the lead. 

“We continue to be disciplined. We had 10 walks tonight. I think that's a big part of what led to the 7-run inning,” Kingston said. “That’s all we needed, so, (it was a) good day.” 

Fifth-year outfielder Dylan Brewer led the team with three walks in the contest. Petry and Noland also drew two walks a piece. 

Թϱ only finished with five hits, but the walks proved to be the difference maker, allowing the Gamecocks to take the lead and never relinquish it. 

What’s next? 

The Palmetto Series will take place starting on Friday as the Gamecocks have a top-25 matchup against its in-state rival Clemson.

Game one will be played at Founders Park and will be broadcast on SEC Network+. Game two will be played on neutral ground at Segra Park, and Game three will be played at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The final two games will be broadcast on ACC Network+. 


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