COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur.com) -- Seven different hitters reached base and the pitching staff allowed only one earned run as South Carolina was able to upend North Florida on Tuesday at Founders Park. Junior TJ Hopkins put forth a 3-for-5 day in the Gamecocks’ (3-1) 10-hit attack.
Sophomore Sawyer Bridges picked up the win while junior Eddy Demurias registered the final five outs of the game to notch his first career save.
“The key tonight was our pitching, again, was outstanding, starting with (John) Gilreath,” first-year head coach Mark Kingston said. “Bridges got hit a little bit there in that (first) inning but for the most part was good. (TJ) Shook and Demurias were scoreless. A lot of really good pitching and defense tonight for us.”
South Carolina erased a 3-2 fifth inning deficit by scoring one run in each of its final three at-bats to come away with its third win in four days.
For the first time this season, the Gamecocks didn’t score a run in the first inning but they were the first team to get on the scoreboard in the game as junior Jacob Olson launched his second home run of the season. He turned around a breaking ball on a two-strike pitch from Ospreys (1-3) starter Frank German, who had an 8-1 record a year ago.
The home run was the first of a two-hit day for Olson with the other being an RBI single in the sixth inning.
“His approach was great,” Kingston said. “He looked like the guy we all know we have there, a guy who was a Cape Cod League All-Star and our returning hitter. Most of those at-bats came with two strikes. I saw good bat speed, a more efficient swing and I saw a guy who was actually seeing the ball clearly for the first time. I thought the key tonight was he was in position to see the ball and he took good swings.”
Senior Justin Row put his team on top 2-0 with an RBI single back up the middle in the fourth inning, but UNF would tie the score in the top of the fifth.
Bridges, who replaced starting pitcher John Gilreath to start the inning, allowed four hits in the inning and a pair of runs with one of them being unearned. Bridges pitched a scoreless sixth inning though before passing the ball off to reliever TJ Shook.
It was the second appearance of the season for Bridges, who threw 1 2/3 perfect innings in relief on Saturday.
“I felt fine. They just capped some ground balls here and there,” Bridges said. “As long as I’m throwing strikes, I’m happy. Giving up two runs isn’t want I wanted. I wanted to come back in the second inning, pound the zone and get some ground balls.”
Shook allowed one hit in the seventh inning and after giving up a single to start the eighth, he passed the ball off to Demurias, who walked his first hitter of the game but got out of the jam. He threw 36 pitches on the afternoon to pick up the save.
“Picking up my first save was definitely a great feeling here in Founders Park,” Demurias said. “Hopefully it’s the first of many.”
It was Olson’s RBI single that put the Gamecocks on top, but a bases-loaded walk to Chris Cullen in the seventh gave South Carolina an insurance run. A two-out triple by Noah Campbell followed by an RBI double by TJ Hopkins gave the Gamecocks their winning margin.
Hopkins is now 7-for-16 on the season with two doubles and an RBI.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m not as locked in as the numbers show,” Hopkins said. “I’m not letting the ball get deep but I’m finding hits and getting hits, which is my job.”
South Carolina will return to the field in less than 24 hours to take on Winthrop in its fifth game in six days. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at Founders Park with freshman Logan Chapman expected to get the start. The game will be live on SEC Network +.
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