March 19, 2010
Columbia, S.C. – Jackie Bradley Jr.’s RBI base hit in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie and Kyle Enders added a RBI sacrifice fly as well as South Carolina opened SEC play with a 4-2 win over Tennessee. Carolina is now 14-4 on the year and 1-0 in the SEC while Tennessee drops to 10-8 and 0-1 in conference play. Game two of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the eighth, the Gamecock got things going with a one-out single by Whit Merrifield to left field off Tennessee reliever Will Locante. Adrian Morales followed with a single also that gave Carolina a pair of runners on first and second base. Up to the plate stepped Bradley, who laced a 0-1 pitch up the middle scoring Merrifield and giving the Gamecocks a one-run lead. Enders then gave the Gamecocks some insurance as he lofted a sacrifice fly ball to left field that scored Morales to give Carolina a two-run cushion. Gamecock reliever Ethan Carter retired the Tennessee batters in order in the top of the ninth to preserve a South Carolina victory.
Carter earned the win in relief and is now 1-0 on the year. He hurled 1.1 perfect innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts. Locante suffered the loss and is 1-1 for the season. He allowed two runs on three hits in one inning with a walk.
South Carolina took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as Merrifield singled followed up by a two-run homer by Morales over the left field wall. The home run was Merrifield’s first of the season.
The game would become a pitcher’s duel then as both Carolina starter Blake Cooper and Tennessee starter Bryan Morgado matched zeroes on the scoreboard. Both were effective and kept the team’s off balance with a steady diet of pitches that limited base runners for both teams.
Tennessee would eventually get to Cooper in the top of the seventh inning. Blake Forsythe drew a leadoff walk followed by a one-out double by Matt Duffy. The Volunteers would then score both their runs on a fielding error by Gamecock first baseman Nick Ebert. Tennessee pinch hitter Charley Thurber knocked a hard hit grounder down the first base line that Ebert could not come up with allowing both runners in scoring position to score to tie the game.
Cooper lasted 6.1 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits with a season-high eight strikeouts and two walks. The Gamecocks would get a couple of solid relief outings from Jose Mata and Michael Roth, who both pitched perfect 0.2 innings of relief. Mata had one strikeout with Roth striking out both batters he faced. Four Gamecock pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts to just two walks allowed. Morgado finished seven innings for Tennessee with two runs allowed on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts.
South Carolina finished with a 6-4 advantage in hits. Merrifield and Morales led the way with two hits apiece. P.J. Polk was 2-for-4 to lead Tennessee.