The University of South Carolina baseball team picked up its third straight win, defeating North Florida, 5-2, behind a balanced effort from the pitching staff and strong plate appearances that included 10 hits, a double, a triple, and a home run.
Freshman John Gilreath started off the evening on the mound, striking out two in the first inning.
Jacob Olson's solo shot in the bottom half of the second inning put South Carolina up 1-0. It was Olson's second home run of the season.
UNF's Raff Libuano got on base with a walk in the third inning, but a 9-3 double play between Olson and Chris Cullen put both batter and runner back on the bench. Gilreath ended the inning with his third strikeout of the day.
In the bottom half of the fourth inning, LT Tolbert got on base and stole second. A Justin Row single to center field scored Tolbert to extend the Gamecock lead, 2-0, after four complete.
Sawyer Bridges came in to pitch for the Gamecocks in the fifth inning. The Ospreys got a runner on base but Bridges, Hunter Taylor and Tolbert caught the runner stealing. A North Florida single from Libuano to right center scored Mac Wilson and cut the South Carolina lead. Libuano moved to second on a throwing error and a single by Jay Prather scored Libuano, tying the game up at 2-2.
Tolbert got on base with a single up the middle in the top of sixth. With one out, Cullen singled to right and moved Tolbert to third. Olson's single to center sent Tolbert home, putting the Gamecocks ahead to stay.
The Gamecocks continued to extend their lead in the bottom of the seventh when Noah Campbell got on base and Hopkins got on with a single to left. Tolbert was intentionally walked, leaving the bases loaded for Cullen who was walked to score Campbell and put the Gamecocks ahead of the Ospreys, 4-2, going in to the eighth inning.
The bats stayed alive in the bottom of the eighth as Campbell tripled to left field, followed by a double for Hopkins to score Campbell. The Gamecocks extended their lead over the Ospreys, 5-2.
Bridges was credited with the win while Eddy Demurias was credited with the save for the Gamecocks. Matt Vaka gets the loss for North Florida as he allowed one run and three hits.
"It just seems like the more you play teams, the more really good arms there are. It seems like when we play teams, they're going to throw their best at us. I saw a lot of really good velocity tonight and I thought our guys did a good job with it."- Head Coach Mark Kingston
Jacob Olson had two hits and two RBI on the night, none bigger than his RBI single to the wall in right, giving South Caroilna a 3-2 lead.
South Carolina has allowed runs in just one of the last 21 innings. North Florida scored two runs in the fifth but were shut out the rest of the contest.
TJ Hopkins had three hits on the night for the Gamecocks, just one off tying his career high. He had four hits at Furman on April 20, 2016. He now has hits in all four games this season.
Freshman John Gilreath has pitched eight scoreless innings to start his South Carolina career. He struck out eight and allowed just four hits and one walk.
Junior Chris Cullen played at first base for the first time this year. Cullen was 1-for-3 with an RBI walk.
Freshman Noah Campbell had his first multi-hit game of his South Carolina career, going 2-for-4 with a triple in the eighth.
This was the first meeting on the diamond between the Gamecocks and Ospreys.
Tuesday's attendance at Founders Park was 6,120.
The Gamecocks will face the Winthrop Eagles tomorrow, February 21st, at 4 p.m. at Founders Park.