Gamecocks polish off series win with Sunday shutout out VMI
(Source: Ryan Bethea, 247Sports)
By John Whittle
COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur.com) — South Carolina left little doubt in the ultimate outcome scoring eight runs in the first four innings along with five shutout frames from starting pitcher Ridge Chapman to earn a 9-0 win and a series victory over VMI.
The Gamecocks (2-1) had 15 different players get into the game along with four pitchers. The Keydets (1-2) were out-hit 10 to 2 on the afternoon and only had one inning in which multiple runners reached base.
“I won’t call it a great first weekend because we didn’t sweep,” first-year head coach Mark Kingston said. “We’ll go into every weekend hoping that’s the goal. I thought it was a good, solid week. We learned a lot about our team. I thought our pitching for the most part did really well. We had more walks than strikeouts offensively today, so that’s a major positive, and we hit for power too. Some things we want to see, and we just need to continue to build on it.”
Chapman, who was named an opening weekend starter on Wednesday, only allowed one hit in his five innings of work to pick up the victory. He did walk four Keydets, but struck out six in his 94-pitch performance.
“When I found out I was going to be the Sunday guy, I was really excited and couldn’t wait to get out there,” Chapman said. “I was really anxious to get out there and compete. It’s hard to explain; it was just great.”
South Carolina scored multiple runs in the first inning in all three games against VMI, including two on Sunday. Noah Campbell, who walked to start the game, scored on a passed ball while TJ Hopkins trotted home on an RBI double by Madison Stokes, which was his team-leading fifth run driven in of the season.
“After Friday night’s tough loss, we did a really good job of bouncing back the last two days and playing the kind of baseball we want to play,” Kingston said. “Had a really good day.”
The Gamecocks scored a pair of runs in the second inning on wild pitches, but it was the bat that brought in four runs in the fourth.
Campbell scored on a bases loaded double play ground ball off Stokes’ bat but after a walk to Jonah Bride, junior Chris Cullen launched his first home run of the season, a three-run shot that ended up in the left field bleachers.
Three different relievers saw action following Chapman’s performance. Junior Gage Hinson, who was Chapman’s teammate at Spartanburg Methodist before they enrolled at South Carolina, threw two shutout innings in relief. Hinson struck out two and hit a batter in his 22-pitch performance, which included 15 strikes.
Redshirt freshman TJ Shook and junior Hunter Lomas each pitched a scoreless inning. Shook worked around a one-out double in the eighth inning while Lomas closed the game down with a perfect ninth inning, which included a strikeout.
Junior Justin Row, who replaced Stokes after he suffered a hamstring injury, added the ninth run of the game in the sixth inning with a solo home run to left field.
South Carolina will return to the field on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Founders Park to take on North Florida. The game will not be broadcast on television or streamed online, which is the last time that will be the case this season.
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