Jonah Bride broke a 2-2 tie with a two-out two-run homer in the top of the sixth inning and right-hander Wil Crowe tied a season-high with nine strikeouts in seven innings of work as 30th ranked South Carolina defeated Missouri 4-3 on Friday night at Taylor Stadium. The Gamecocks are 30-19 and 12-13 in the SEC with the Tigers dropping to 29-21 and 9-16 in league play.
Crowe allowed just two runs on four hits with two walks to earn the win. He is 5-4 on the year. Junior right-hander Tyler Johnson pitched 1.1 scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts to pick up his ninth save of the season. Missouri starter TJ Sikkema suffered his first loss of the year in his first start. He allowed three runs on four hits in 5.1 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. He is now 7-1 on the year.
Missouri broke ahead 2-0 in the third inning. Alex Samples led off with a single to right field and scored on Chris Cornelius’ one-out triple as Carlos Cortes slipped coming up on the line drive in left field. A bad break would score Missouri’s second run as Wil Crowe struck out Kirby McGuire, but the third strike would get past catcher Hunter Taylor and go to the backstop allowing Cornelius to score and McGuire to reach on a wild pitch to give the Tigers a two-run lead.
The Gamecocks tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth as Carolina put together three consecutive hits to tie it up. Bride led off the frame with a single to center field. Riley Hogan followed with a double to left field and Hunter Taylor’s double to right-center scored both runners.
Bride’s homer in the sixth inning gave the Gamecocks a lead they would not relinquish. Alex Destino would draw a two-out walk to set the stage for Bride. After Missouri went to the bullpen for right-hander Cole Bartlett, it would be Bride who would answer for the Gamecocks as he knocked the ninth pitch of the at bat over the wall in left field to give Carolina a two-run lead.
The Tigers would cut into Carolina’s lead in the eighth inning as Kirby McGuire reached base on a one-out single and scored on Connor Brumfield’s RBI double to left field. That would be it though for Missouri as Brumfield would be left stranded on second as Reagan retired Brett Bond on a groundout to short. With two outs and runners on first and second, Johnson ended the Missouri threat as he coaxed Kameron Misner into a groundout to second base. Johnson would pitch a perfect ninth to seal the win for the Gamecocks.
Bride’s two-run homer gave the Gamecocks a two-run lead in the sixth inning.
Carolina’s 6-9 hitters combined to go 6-for-15 at the plate with three of four runs scored in Friday night’s game for Carolina and all four RBIs.
The fifth inning continues to be South Carolina’s top inning for runs scored as Carolina has scored 59 runs this year in the fifth inning.
Bride finished 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Riley Hogan doubled twice and was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Hunter Taylor tallied his first multi-RBI game of the season with a pair of RBIs.
South Carolina is 16-15 on the year in games decided by three runs or less. 17 of South Carolina’s 25 SEC games have been decided by three runs or less with the Gamecocks now 6-1 in those contests this season.
QUOTABLE FROM HEAD COACH CHAD HOLBROOK
“It was a typical Friday night in the SEC. There was some good pitching going on out there. Their freshman was terrific and Wil battled him pitch for pitch. We kind of had a bad inning there defensively (in the 3rd), got behind 2-0, but responded right away with a big inning offensively (in the 5th). Three straight hits there that got us back in the game. We then found a way to get ahead there in the next inning with a big home run from Jonah. Our pitching staff was great down the stretch. It was good to see Tyler Johnson look like Tyler Johnson. It was good to see him get back into the swing of things and Reagan got us some big outs as well. It was a big win for us.”
(on the 6th inning capped by Bride’s homer)
“Jonah is a good, savvy baseball player. What gets lost in that inning was the walk that Destino got. He took some borderline pitches there and it was a two-out walk. Then Jonah battled and competed and fouled off some balls. He got a 3-2 slider up. (Bartlett) didn’t want to walk him and he threw it over the heart of the plate and Jonah put a great swing on it.”
(on Wil Crowe)
“Wil had kind of taken a lot of leadership over the last several days in regards to how vocal he has been in the dugout and in the locker room. Even on Wednesday night when we were losing 6-1 (to Liberty), he kind of called a team meeting in the dugout himself. He was the same way in the dugout (tonight). He didn’t sit between innings and when he wasn’t pitching he was up the whole game. Cheering for his teammates when we were on offense and it was really good to see. He seems to be a very determined kid right now and we had to have a big outing from him tonight to win. His two runs could have been none because Carlos could have made that play if he didn’t slip. Wil was terrific. Realistically, he pitched as flawless a game as he has all year.”
South Carolina and Missouri resume the series on Saturday afternoon with first pitch set at 3 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”