Sizzling offense erased a five-run deficit Wednesday night at Founders Park as 30th ranked South Carolina (29-19) scored six runs in the fifth inning en route to a 10-7 win over Liberty (29-18). Home runs by Danny Blair, Riley Hogan and Carlos Cortes helped spark the Gamecocks in the middle of the game and right-hander Colie Bowers allowed just one run in three innings of relief to earn the victory.
Bowers struck out six batters to improve to 4-1 on the year. Liberty reliever Cody Gamble took the loss to move to 2-3 on the season. He allowed two runs on two hits and only faced three batters in the fifth inning.
D.J. Artis opened things with a leadoff double for the Flames in the top of the first inning. He later scored from third on a sacrifice fly to left field as Liberty took an early 1-0 lead. The Flames extended their lead in the second after Grabowski led off the frame with a double. He eventually scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 2-0. Liberty tacked on another run in the inning as Cam Locklear ripped a solo shot into the Flames’ bullpen in left-center.
Liberty threatened again in the top half of the third as Artis stayed hot and opened the inning with a triple to the right field corner. He later scored on sacrifice fly to right. Hunter Taylor drew a walk in the bottom half of the inning to give Carolina’s offense some life, but he was stranded on third base. The Gamecocks were hitless through three innings as they trailed 4-0 heading to the top of the fourth.
Lee, who got the starting nod, settled in on the hill and retired six straight batters in the third and fourth innings. Carolina got on the board in the bottom half of the fourth after loading the bases with one out. Freshman Riley Hogan, who had a career night at the plate, hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field that scored Alex Destino from third.
Lee’s night ended in the top of the fifth after he gave up a single to Locklear to start the inning. He gave up five hits and five runs with two strikeouts in four innings pitched. Graham Lawson came in to relive Lewis. Artis jumped on him right away and logged his third hit of the game, an RBI single that scored Locklear. Three-hole hitter Jake Barbee kept the inning going, singling in another run to push the Flames’ lead to 6-1. Lewis later struck out Andrew Kowalo to end the inning.
The Gamecock offense exploded in the bottom of the fifth. LT Tolbert started things with a single to left-center. Danny Blair then stepped to the dish and crushed a two-run bomb that nearly cleared the right field concourse. The homer was the first of his career. After the bases cleared, Destino drew his third walk of the game and Jacob Olson singled to left to put two more runners on for the home team. Jonah Bride stepped up and knocked a clutch, two-out RBI single into left field that scored Destino. His RBI cut the deficit to 6-4.
Carolina was able to keep the fifth inning momentum rolling as Hogan drove in three runs with a monster moonshot to right field to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the night, 7-6.
The bats stayed warm for the Gamecocks in the bottom of the sixth as Carlos Cortes hit his seventh homer of the season, a two-run line shot over the wall in right to make it 9-6.
Carolina added some insurance in the bottom half of the seventh inning as Matt Williams scored from third on a groundout by Blair to make it 10-6. Bowers mowed down the Liberty lineup in the top of the eighth, striking out the side. The Flames threatened in the ninth after loading the bases, but Reed Scott struck out two batters to end the game and pick up the save.
South Carolina erased a five-run deficit in the fifth inning after scoring six runs, five of which came by way of two homeruns.
The Gamecocks offensive attack was balanced on Wednesday night as eight different players logged a hit.
• Destino set a school record for most walks in a single game with five. The junior has got on base in eight-straight plate appearances.
• Bowers struck out six of the 14 batters he faced in his three innings of work.
• The six-run fifth inning was the most runs by Carolina in an inning since March 28 at The Citadel when the Gamecocks scored nine in the second inning in Charleston.
• Hogan finished with a new single game career-high four RBIs. The freshman came into tonight’s game with four runs batted in on the season.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“It was a nice win against a really good team and a team that has beat some really good opponents. We were down 6-1 there and we hadn't displayed ourselves as an offensive juggernaut so things didn't look really good at that point in time. But to have a six run inning and Danny (Blair) come off the bench to get us going, that was neat to see because he is a great kid and it was a big swing. (Riley) Hogan being a freshman stepped up hit the three-run homer, and then we held on for dear life at the end. I would like to play the ninth inning a lot cleaner than we did, but we have lost some like that so I am not going to complain too much about that. We won two big mid-week games this week when we were down a little bit. We had to throw some guys in some spots they had not been in, and I think we got two really good wins this mid-week and we needed them. We are going to get on the plane tomorrow and go play a big series at Missouri.”
South Carolina travels to Missouri for a three-game SEC series. First pitch for the opener on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”