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April 10, 2016

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COLUMBIA, S.C.Alex Destino broke a 3-3 tie with a two-out pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning and junior left-hander Josh Reagan worked out of a bases loaded jam with no outs in the top of the ninth against the middle of the Tennessee batting order as sixth ranked South Carolina defeated the Volunteers 4-3 on Sunday to sweep a three-game SEC baseball series. The Gamecocks are 28-5 and 10-2 in the SEC with Tennessee 18-14 and 3-9 in league play.

Tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Dom Thompson-Williams stole second base with two outs to put a runner in scoring position for Carolina. After a walk to DC Arendas gave the Gamecocks a pair of runners. Tennessee went to the bullpen for right-hander Jon Lipinski to face the right-handed hitting TJ Hopkins. Head coach Chad Holbrook countered with the left-handed hitting Destino, who did not start this week due to a bruised AC joint. On a 1-1 pitch, Destino knocked a RBI single to left field to score Thompson-Williams and give Carolina the one-run lead. Tennessee looked to mount a rally in the ninth with Derek Lance leading off with a single followed by a pair of bunts that went for singles by Benito Santiago and Chris Hall to load the bases. Reagan dug deep though and on a 3-2 changeup was able to coax Nick Senzel into a tapper back to him to get the fielder’s choice at home. He followed that up with a strikeout of Vincent Jackson and then ended the game getting Jordan Rodgers to pop up to Arendas at second to preserve the victory.

South Carolina right-hander Tyler Johnson pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first win of the year. He is 1-1 for the season. Reagan’s scoreless ninth gave him his 10th save of the season. Tennessee right-hander Steven Kane suffered the loss and is 0-3 on the year. He allowed one run in one inning of relief.

Tennessee scratched across a run in the top of the second inning to go ahead 1-0. Jackson led off the frame with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Jared Pruett’s RBI single to right field. The Volunteers increased their lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning. Santiago and Hall each singled with one out to give the Volunteers runners on the corners with Santiago scoring on Senzel’s fielder’s choice.

Carolina tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Madison Stokes led off with a single followed by a walk to TJ Hopkins. With one out and runners on first and second, Marcus Mooney knocked a double down the third base line to score both Stokes and Hopkins.

Both teams traded runs in the sixth inning. Jackson led off with a double for Tennessee, advanced with one out on a wild pitch and scored on Tyler Schultz’ sac fly to left field. In the bottom half, John Jones doubled and Jonah Bride singled to give Carolina runners on the corners with no outs. Stokes would drive in Jones with a RBI groundout.

Destino’s pinch-hit RBI single in his first plate appearance of the weekend followed up by Reagan’s work with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth.

Carolina pitchers worked well with runners on base all weekend including Sunday afternoon as they forced Tennessee on Sunday to finish 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.

Gene Cone’s single in the bottom of the first inning extended his hitting streak to 19 games. In addition, he has reached base in 22 straight contests.

Destino’s pinch-hit single extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

Jonah Bride had South Carolina only multi-hit game of the day going 2-for-3 at the plate. Mooney went 1-for-3 with two RBI as well.

South Carolina is now 22-1 on the year at home at Founders Park. All three victories this weekend vs. the Volunteers were by three runs or less. The Gamecocks are now 10-3 on the year in games decided by three runs or less. It was the first game of the season that South Carolina entered the seventh inning tied with its opponent. South Carolina has swept three of its four SEC oppoonents this year.

Head Coach Chad Holbrook

The focus is going to come down to the last three outs and obviously Josh Reagan was terrific, but we made it very difficult on ourselves in not handling the bunt situation the right way. I’ll certainly take responsibility for that. Josh picked everybody up and threw some terrific pitches to the meat of their lineup, bases loaded and nobody out. We could probably replay that scenario 100 times with the bases loaded, nobody out, Nick Senzel coming to the plate and out of the 100 times they would get at least one run probably 99 times. Josh just made some great pitches and got some really good hitters out with the game on the line. We played great defense for the most part outside of those bunts. Alex got the big hit out there in the 8th and we held on. It was an extremely competitive series. If we had lost that game today I would have sat up here and said that we were very fortunate to win that series. I feel even more fortunate to have won three games. Tennessee is a very scrappy bunch and especially good from a hitting standpoint and an approach standpoint and we did just enough.

South Carolina heads to Charlotte for a Tuesday night non-conference tilt vs. North Carolina at BB&T Ballpark, home of the Triple-A Charlotte Knights of the Chicago White Sox organization. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”