COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the first time, Carolina head baseball coach Mark Kingston leaves Founders Park a winner on Opening Day as South Carolina crushed Holy Cross 10-0.
"It sure beats the alternative," Kingston said. "Feel much better than we did the first two years on Opening Night. Excited that the guys played well."
Starting pitcher Carmen Mldozinski set the tone from the mound. Mldozinski tossed seven innings, struck out three, and allowed no runs.
"The most encouraging thing is we asked him to pitch efficient and go deep into a game, and he did that," said Kingston.
For the redshirt sophomore, it was an efficient outing he credits to feeling comfortable and confident in his fastball, along with the defense behind him.
"Trusting my fastball is something I've definitely grown on the past year," added Mldozinski. "Being able to trust the movement, trust your defense behind you that they're going to make good plays like they did today."
The power surge in the first frame made Mldozinski relax even more from the mound. Before the Crusaders could settle in, newcomer Bryant Bowen belted a three-run home run. It was a huge moment for the senior graduate transfer in the first at-bat of his Gamecock career.
"To be real honest, it was a special moment," said Bryant. "The hair on my arms was coming off, some goosebumps, just a great way to set the tone. I think after five years of college baseball and finally getting to start on Opening Day, it was just icing on the cake."
Freshman second baseman Braylen Wimmer did not need to wait as long as Bryant to start on an Opening Day. Wimmer was grateful to have his name in the starting lineup.
"It's a great feeling," said Wimmer. "I remember back in 2010 and 2011, watching this team play in the College World Series. It's always been a dream of mine to put this uniform on. It's a dream come true."
Wimmer was masterful defensively and at the dish in his first collegiate baseball game. He had several fantastic diving stops to lead the team with six assists. He drove in a pair of runs in the sixth on a single to make it 10-0.
"He's an athletic and good baseball player," said Kingston. "His defense is what kind of really won us over and pushed the edge on him getting the start tonight. He showed everything we've been seeing all spring."
The Gamecocks continue their three-game series against Holy Cross on Saturday. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.