Home runs doom Carolina as Weatherly shuts down Gamecocks

Home runs doom Carolina as Weatherly shuts down Gamecocks
South Carolina Baseball Head Coach Mark Kingston (Source: Ryan Bethea, 247Sports)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (THE BIG SPUR) - The only thing that the South Carolina baseball team can be happy about on Friday night is it didn’t get no hit. It took a solo home run from Brady Allen in the bottom of the ninth inning to avoid a no hitter and a shutout in a 7-1 loss to Clemson on Friday night at Founders Park.

Tigers (8-1) starting pitcher Sam Weatherly was dominant on the night for the visitors throwing seven innings of shutout baseball before giving way to the bullpen. The Gamecocks (6-3) had few hard-hit balls off of the lefty, who mixed in a mid-90s fastball with a plus slider to strike out 11 on the night.

Allen’s solo shot was the only bright spot for the home side, which was unable to keep up with the three home runs launched by the visitors.

“Just press reset and let’s go get ‘em tomorrow,” head coach Mark Kingston said following the game.

South Carolina starting pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski worked around runners on base each of the first three innings, but then he would allow a home run each of the next three frames.

It started in the fourth inning when freshman Dylan Brewer launched a hanging changeup deep over the right field wall. In the fifth, Davis Sharpe deposited a fastball into his own team’s bullpen in left centerfield. In the sixth inning, Kier Meredith hit his second career home run.

Clemson entered the game with two home runs on the season, which spanned eight games. On Friday night, the team hit three.

“A lot of balls up, left a lot of balls up in the zone,” Kingston said of Mlodzinski's performance. “He was able to match him pitch for pitch for three innings but starting that fourth inning, he left a lot of balls up.”

Mlodzinski would drop to 1-1 on the season as he saw his earned run average jump from 0.64 to 3.15 in his three starts.

“I just didn’t put them away when I had to,” Mlodzinski said.

The first home run by Brewer would have been enough for the Tigers on the night. Weatherly walked three in his 104-pitch performance and hit a batter as well, but the Gamecocks were never able to capitalize.

“He was really good. Really good,” Kingston said of Weatherly. “Elite fastball, really good slider, movement on the fastball was good. Only walked three guys in seven innings. He was an elite pitcher tonight.”

Allen’s home run came off of freshman left-hander Geoffrey Gilbert, who didn’t walk any and struck out four in his two innings of work.

While Mlodzinski didn’t have his plus stuff and the Gamecocks had their worst game offensively of the year, there were several missed opportunities defensively as well. In addition to plays not made, the Gamecocks had four errors on the night.

It was about as poor of a performance as one could imagine, and it came at the wrong time.

“Disappointing ball game for us,” Kingston said. “Good thing is, we get to play tomorrow, and we’ll be ready.”

South Carolina will look to try to even the series on Saturday against Clemson. The two teams will meet at 3 p.m. at Segra Park with coverage provided by ACC Network Extra.

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