April 23, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Junior outfielder Gene Cone extended his hitting streak to 25 games and went 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI as fourth-ranked South Carolina defeated Missouri 8-5 on Friday night at Founders Park. The Gamecocks are now 31-8 and 12-4 with Missouri dropping to 20-19 and 4-12 in league play.
Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the Gamecocks began their rally with a leadoff double to right-center off the bat of Alex Destino. After a wild pitch advanced Destino to third base, Jonah Bride would drive him in on a RBI base hit. Missouri third baseman Shane Benes would then drop a popup in the infield off the bat of LT Tolbert to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners. With one out, DC Arendas walked to load the bases. Marcus Mooney would drive in Tolbert on a fielder’s choice to cut the deficit to a run. With runners on first and third and two outs, Gene Cone belted a double down the left field line that scored both runners and gave Carolina a 5-4 lead. The Gamecocks extended the advantage with three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cone and Thompson-Williams each drove in a run with Cone scoring on a wild pitch as well. Missouri would get a single run in the ninth inning.
South Carolina junior right-hander Reed Scott earned the win in relief with 0.2 scoreless innings. He is 3-1 on the year. Sophomore right-hander Tyler Johnson allowed just a solo homer in 2.2 innings and struck out four for his third save of the season. Missouri reliever Cole Bartlett suffered the loss and is now 2-4 for the season. He allowed a run on one hit and a walk in 0.2 innings.
Missouri struck for a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. Zach Lavy led off with an infield single and Brett Bond was hit by a pitch with one out. After a groundout moved both runners into scoring position, Ian Nelson knocked a RBI single to center score both runners and give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Missouri increased the lead to 3-0 in the third inning. Ryan Howard and Lavy each singled to open the frame with Howard scoring on Trey Harris’ sac fly to center field.
Carolina answered with a run in the bottom of the third inning to cut the deficit to a pair of runs. Gene Cone doubled down the right field line and scored on John Jones’ second hit of the night, a two-out RBI single to left-center.
A pair of doubles would give the Tigers a 4-1 lead in the top of the sixth. Kirby McGuire doubled with one out to right field and scored on Jake Ring’s two-out RBI double to the gap in right-center.
Cone’s two-out two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning capped a four-run frame that helped give the Gamecocks a lead they would never relinquish.
Carolina scored seven runs in the final three innings at the plate to rally for a three-run victory.
Gene Cone tied the South Carolina single-season school record for a hitting streak at 25 games with a double in the third inning. That tied him with Greg Keatley, who had a 25-game hitting streak in 1976. It is one shy of the school record of 26 set by Whit Merrifield in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He tied his career-high in hits with three on the night, the 10th time in his career he has had three hits in a game.
Sophomore right-hander Clarke Schmidt allowed four runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings with two walks and five strikeouts in a no-decision.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
We feel very fortunate to have won, obviously a big win for us. We didn’t get off to a great start and didn’t look too good when we were down 4-1 in the top of the sixth. It didn’t look good but that happens in this league from time to time because all of the opponents are good teams, they can push you around some. Clarke didn’t have great stuff but he had good stuff, he just wasn’t comfortable and his location wasn’t as precise and crisp as it has been all year long, but he still battled and got a few big outs for us. He kept us in the game and within striking distance. That’s one of the neat things about our team this year. We have picked each other up. Clarke wasn’t his best but Reed and Tyler picked him up. As a coach that is really neat to see. And offensively, Gene with the big hit in the sixth to get us the lead and we had a big bottom of the eight that made things feel a lot more comfortable. It was a good win for us, a good Friday night win, but obviously we will have our hands full tomorrow with one of the best arms in college baseball. I feel very relieved and fortunate that we were able to get this one when things didn’t look that hot at some points in the game. We will take it and move on.
Game two of the series is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. Saturday is also the official dedication for Founders Park. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as the pregame ceremony will start at 3:45 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”