April 2, 2010
Columbia, S.C. – Brady Thomas hit a pair of two-run homers and starting pitcher Blake Cooper worked into the ninth inning to earn his fifth win of the year as South Carolina defeated Mississippi State 10-2 in the first of a three-game SEC baseball series on Friday night. South Carolina is now 21-5 and 6-1 in the SEC while the loss drops MSU to 14-12 and 2-5 in the conference play. Game two of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday with the game televised live on SportSouth and also available on the Gamecock Radio Network.
Cooper went 8.1 innings, his longest outing of the season to improve to 5-0 on the year. He allowed two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. MSU starter Kendall Graveman faced only five batters and allowed four runs, three earned on two hits and three walks. He is now 1-2 for the season.
After a solo home run by Luke Adkins put MSU up 1-0 in the top of the first, South Carolina batted around in the bottom half and scored four times to take a 4-1 lead. Whit Merrifield led off with a single and a pair of walks to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brady Thomas loaded the bases. It would set the stage for Jeffery Jones, who knocked a RBI single to right field scoring both Merrifield and Bradley. After a walk to Adam Matthews loaded the bases for a second time, Thomas would score on a fielding error by third baseman Nick Vickerson. Robert Beary would tally a RBI on the play. Carolina’s fourth run came on a sacrifice fly RBI courtesy of Bobby Haney.
Mississippi State added a single run in the top of the third inning. Sam Frost bunted for a base hit with one out with Nick Vickerson also reaching base on a single and Luke Adkins walking to load the bases for the Bulldogs. Frost would then score as Connor Powers was hit by a pitch to cut Carolina’s lead to 4-2. Cooper battled though and worked himself out of the jam as he induced Russ Snead into a 6-4-3 double play to end the MSU threat.
Carolina bounced back with a run in the bottom of the third as Adam Matthews tripled with one out and scored on Beary’s RBI groundout. The Gamecocks extended the lead to 7-2 in the fifth inning as Thomas launched a two-run homer to left field, his second round tripper of the season.
South Carolina closed out the scoring with three more runs in the eighth inning as Merrifield delivered with a RBI single and Thomas added his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left center. He is the second Gamecock player to tally two home runs in a game this year; the previous was Jeffery Jones on Opening Day, Feb. 19 vs. Duquesne. Thomas’ four-RBI total tied his career high he set at Georgia Southern earlier this year on March 23.
Carolina finished with an 11-6 advantage in hits. Thomas was 3-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored. Jackie Bradley Jr. also scored three runs. Merrifield finished 2-for-5 as did Jeffery Jones. Merrifield has now hit safely in 25 of 26 games this year and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Sam Frost was 2-for-3 to lead Mississippi State at the plate.