Extra base hits push Carolina past Princeton

Extra base hits push Carolina past Princeton
(Source: TheBigSpur.com)

COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur.com) -- South Carolina used five extra-base hits to power its way to a 9-2 win over Princeton in the series-opener on Friday night at Founders Park. Starting pitcher Adam Hill struck out nine hitters and picked up the win in his third straight start.

Senior Matt Williams put an exclamation point in the nine-run performance with a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. His line drive shot gave the Gamecocks a home run to go along with three doubles and a triple on the evening out of the team's nine hits.

"We want to be a power team but we also want to give really good at-bats with two strikes, and we did that tonight," first-year head coach Mark Kingston said. "We had five extra-base hits and to me, that's what your offense to look like."

Hill pushed his record to 2-1 on the season picking up the win in five innings of work against the Tigers. He struggled through the first inning throwing 30 pitches and allowing a run, but that was the only time the visitors would score. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out nine in a 94-pitch performance.

"I didn't have my best stuff," Hill said. "My command was a little erratic, but pitching on Friday, you have to grind it out for your team. I had to figure out a way with what I had working tonight. I had a pretty good fastball and the slider was working well. I mainly stuck to those two. I didn't have my best stuff, and I had to battle through it."

Over the previous three weeks, Hill has thrown 19 innings and allowed three runs on four hits with four walks. He's also struck out 37 hitters in that time.

Freshman John Gilreath entered after Hill and kept putting up zeroes on the scoreboard until the top of the eighth inning when the Tigers were able to get on the scoreboard again. The lefty gave up a walk, two singles and an RBI groundout as the visitors cut the deficit to 5-2.

Junior TJ Hopkins saw his batting average jump more than 20 points after a 2-for-3 performance, which included a double, triple, an RBI, two runs scored and a walk. He's now hitting .302 on the year.

"(Hopkins) took swings tonight that we want to see him take," Kingston said. "He really drove the ball to right center and it's fun to watch him run the bases once that ball is in the gap. I thought Noah had a nice night, but I thought TJ was really important. That kind of night is something to build on."

A four-spot in the bottom of the eight put the game to rest as Jacob Olson drove a two-RBI double to left field and was followed two batters later by Williams, who hit a two-run home run. The blast was the second of the season for Williams.

Gilreath worked a clean ninth inning to pick up the save, the first of his career and only the second for the Gamecocks this season.

South Carolina will return to action on Saturday to face Princeton in a doubleheader. Game 1 of the day is set for 1 p.m. with sophomore Cody Morris on the mound. Game 2 of the day, which has been moved up from Sunday due to expected inclement weather, will begin 40 minutes after the completion of the first game of the day.

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