Carolina pummels Paladins behind Mlodzinski's big night

Carolina pummels Paladins behind Mlodzinski's big night
Carmen Mlodzinski (Source: TheBigSpur.com)

GREENVILLE, SC (TheBigSpur.com) - South Carolina avenged an early-season home loss to Furman by pummeling the Paladins 10-2 on Tuesday night at Fluor Field. Freshman Carmen Mlodzinski set several career highs on the mound as he picked up his second win of the season.

The Gamecocks (24-17) slugged 17 hits, which included home runs from senior Madison Stokes and sophomore Carlos Cortes, but it was senior Jonah Bride who had the team's best offensive day going 4-for-5 on the evening. As a team, South Carolina scored at least one run in six different innings.

"I wouldn't call it easy, but I thought we played really well," first-year head coach Mark Kingston said. "They stayed in the game, but it was a really good all-around outing for us. We played another complete game where we were really good in all facets."

Mlodzinski equaled the season high for any South Carolina in innings pitched with his career-best seven. Junior Adam Hill has twice gone seven innings this season but no other Gamecock has reached that mark.

"For him to go that deep into the game and minimize his pitches was very important. That's part of his development as a pitcher," Kingston said. "He got ahead of hitters, period. When he nibbles, he falls behind."

(Photo: Ryan Bethea, 247Sports)

Bride opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first inning and that lead was doubled in the third when senior Madison Stokes lifted a 425 foot home run to left field. The home run was Stokes' seventh of the season, which is two off of the team lead.

"That's really encouraging," Bride said of the team's 17 hits. "We're coming off a great weekend and another great game today, so we have a lot of confidence going into the weekend."

South Carolina had six hits in the first three innings but could only score two runs and the lead quickly evaporated when the Paladins plated a pair of runs in the fourth inning off of Mlodzinski.

Mlodzinski, who had retired the first nine hitters he faced, issued a leadoff walk in the fourth inning before giving up a single and a double that each scored a run.

The Gamecocks quickly took the lead back in the fifth inning with Bride's RBI double that hit off the tip of third baseman Jared Mihalik's glove. Cortes drove in a run with a one-out single back up the middle in the sixth followed by a sacrifice fly by Stokes to score TJ Hopkins, who reached on a single in the inning.

Bride, after leading off the seventh with a double, scored on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Olson in the seventh to put the Gamecocks on top 6-2. Bride finished the game going 4-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored as he lifted his batting average to .320 on the year.

The runs were plenty for Mlodzinski, who struck out the final batter he faced in the game to end the seventh inning. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits. He walked three but struck out a career high seven in his 90-pitch performance, which is also the most pitches he's thrown in a game.

"Just getting ahead, trusting my pitches and trying to get early outs," Mlodzinski said, when asked what the key was to keeping his pitch count down. "I just want to go out and compete every single time. Just competitiveness."

A three-run home run by Cortes and a sac fly by Row in the eighth put the game out of reach for the Paladins, which used five different pitchers in the game. Reliever Trent Alley suffered the loss for the Paladins.

Junior Ridge Chapman and freshman Corey Stone closed out the game with a scoreless inning apiece. Chapman struck out all three hitters he faced. Stone loaded the bases on a couple of hits and a walk, but he got a ground ball to end the game.

South Carolina returns to the field on Friday this week when it travels to face Vanderbilt in a three-game series. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network +.