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Feb. 27, 2016

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COLUMBIA, S.C.Alex Destino homered twice, including his second career grand slam, and John Jones added a grand slam, his third homer of the year as well, as 15th-ranked South Carolina defeated Penn State 16-5 on Saturday afternoon at Founders Park. The Gamecocks improve to 7-0 on the year, while the Nittany Lions drop to 2-4.

Freshmen right-hander Braden Webb improved to 2-0 with the victory. He allowed two runs, both unearned on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings of work. Penn State right-hander Sal Biasi suffered the loss and is now l-1 on the year. He allowed six runs on seven hits in 2.1 innings with three walks and two strikeouts.

The Gamecocks took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Jonah Bride singled to third base and Jones walked to set the stage for Destino. On a 2-2 pitch, Destino drove his first homer of the season over the right field fence to give Carolina a three-run lead.

A pair of errors led to two unearned runs in the top of the third for Penn State. With two outs, Conlin Hughes reached base on a throwing error. After a wild pitch advanced him into scoring position, Greg Guers singled to score the run. After a stolen base, Jim Haley would reach on an infield single. A low throw would allow Guers to score from third base on the play to cut the Gamecocks’ lead to one run.

A seven-run third inning would give the Gamecocks a 10-2 lead, highlighted by Destino’s second home run of the game, a grand slam. LT Tolbert led off the inning with a single followed by a walk to Gene Cone. With one out, Marcus Mooney would drive in Tolbert with a RBI double. After a two-out walk to Dom Thompson-Williams, the Gamecocks would score their second run of the inning on a RBI single from Bride. Jones would then walk to load the bases and set the stage again for Destino. Destino launched a 1-2 pitch to give the Gamecocks an eight-run lead.

Carolina added a run in the fourth and Jones’ grand slam in the sixth was part of a five-run frame. Penn State would score single runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings.

Destino went 3-for-6 with two runs and a career-high seven RBI. Blair went 3-for-5 and Bride, Tolbert, DC Arendas, Mooney added two hits also. Mooney tallied two RBI as well.

The seven-run bottom of the third inning, highlighted by Alex Destino’s grand slam.

Alex Destino drove in seven runs, which is the second highest by a Gamecock in Founders Park history, two short of the school record of nine.

• Alex Destino recorded his second career grand slam. His first was last year vs. Charleston Southern.
• John Jones belted his first career grand slam, giving him 17 RBI on the season, and his four walks tied a single-game school record.
• Jonah Bride and Danny Blair both recorded career-high hits with three apiece.
• South Carolina’s 18 hits were a season-high in a game with the 16 runs scored tying the season-high mark set on Wednesday vs. Winthrop.

Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“We got some big swings of the bat with Alex [Destino] twice. He kind of got the game off to a good start for us against a pitcher who I thought was throwing it in there pretty good. Sometimes you watch the stuff that one has to start the game, and when he started the game I thought it might be tough to score on him. He threw a great slider to Dom [Thompson-Williams] in the first inning. It looked like some good stuff, and then we did a good job of picking our pitch. We got into some hitter’s counts and some guys hit the table. We had a few good innings there in the first, third and the sixth. We had some big swings of the bat by Destino and [John] Jones. It was a good series win. There is a lot we still have to work on. I’m playing a lot of guys obviously, and we’re getting contributions from a lot of different people. We have some depth on our team this year. All in all, it was a good series win for us and we need to come with the opportunity to finish off a the weekend on a good note tomorrow.”

The South Carolina and Penn State series concludes Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Founders Park. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”