Gamecocks hoping Saturday provides boost heading into big week

Collyn Taylor, GamecockCentral.com
Gamecock Central

Chad Holbrook said Friday night was rough for the coaches and player after Friday’s 5-3 loss to Vanderbilt. Luckily for them, they didn’t have too much time to think about it.

After the game ended at about 11:15 p.m., the Gamecock players left near midnight and had eight short hours before reporting to the stadium for Saturday’s noon tilt. The loss could have snowballed, but they didn’t let it.

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“Obviously we were down, but it was a close game that we lost. There was a lot of reason for us to throw this game away, kind of give it away mentally,” Alex Destino, who drove in two runs Saturday, said. “The vibes were great today. During BP everyone was excited, which was good. Coach Holbrook was upbeat all day, which is good.”

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No. 12 South Carolina avoided the sweep, beating Vandy 6-1 and ending a three-game skid in the SEC.

While they dropped the series to the Commodores, head coach Chad Holbrook told his team that series finale could be one of the biggest wins of the season.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I did tell them I have a good feeling we’ll look back in late May and June and say that Sunday against Vanderbilt was the biggest win of the year,” he said. “We’ll see what happens, but it feels awfully good to win this one today when we didn’t feel so good coming to the park today.”

The Gamecocks almost completed a five-run comeback in game one, falling short by just a run. They blew a 3-0 lead in Friday’s game, giving up a game-tying single with two outs in the ninth before Reed Scott allowed the go-ahead home run in the 13th inning.

They rallied after the extra-inning game, plating six runs on seven hits.

LT Tolbert tied a career-high with three RBI after starting the scoring in the second with a three-run bomb to right field. The Gamecocks would plate two more runs on sacrifice flies and their last on a RBI single from TJ Hopkins.

“The last thing we wanted to do was get swept,” Tolbert said. “I think we came out with that chip on our shoulder and prove something.”

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Starter Adam Hill threw six no-hit innings before being pulled with a man on in the seventh, tying a career-high with 11 punch-outs. He was backed up offensively with six of the nine position players notching hits.

Holbrook and Hill said this could be the start of a big momentum swing for South Carolina, which had lost four of its last six entering Saturday.

“We played well the first two games, and they just didn’t turn out in our favor. We like the way we’re playing,” Hill said. “We’re pitching, we’re hitting. If we keep playing this way, things will go in our favor.”

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The Gamecocks (21-10, 7-5 SEC) will face a top-10 North Carolina team at BB&T Field in Charlotte Tuesday before hosting Mississippi State in a three-game series starting Friday.

It’s a big stretch, and Saturday’s win could be a catalyst for a big run to close the season.

“You’re going to look back at number seven win in the league and say that was an awfully big one just because our backs were against the wall,” Holbrook said. “It’ll all be read about how we lost the series, and that’s OK. Like I told our guys, they don’t count how many series wins you have, they count how many games you win. Hopefully they’ll take a deep breath and we’ll develop into a championship-caliber team.”

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