COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Opening day is finally here. The South Carolina baseball team is getting set to open the 2021 season against Dayton in a three-game series at Founders Park. Senior Thomas Farr is set to get the ball for the Gamecocks, which finished the Coronavirus-shortened campaign with a 12-4 record in 2020.
The Flyers are coming off of a 6-8 mark but have a pitcher ranked in the Top 150 in the MLB Draft and a third baseman who was picked as the preseason Conference Player of the Year by multiple publications. The team is also picked third in the league, and garnered four of the 13 first-place votes.
The Gamecocks, under fourth-year head coach Mark Kingston, have a veteran starting lineup that sees only one newcomer, a junior college transfer. Here’s what the lineup looks like on Friday for the Gamecocks:
RF Brady Allen
3B Brennan Milone
DH Wes Clarke
1B David Mendham
LF Andrew Eyster
2B Jeff Heinrich
C Colin Burgess
CF Noah Myers
SS George Callil
NINTH INNING: Jack Mahoney in, and gets a fly ball to the track in right for the first out of the inning. Then a shallow fly ball to left. He’s up to 94 mph. And a strikeout ends the game. Carolina wins 12-1.
EIGHTH INNING: Jackson Phipps into pitch, falls behind 3-0, but gets a 3-2 ground out. Then a pop up between first and second. Heinrich loses it in the sky, and Mendham is zoned out. Ball falls with no one within 15 feet of it. Squibber back to the mound and Phipps makes the throw to second for the force out. And Burgess throws out the runner. Two steal attempts, two successful throwouts by Burgy. ... Clarke hits a screaming liner to right. Sliding catch attempted, sliding catch missed. Double. Satterfield swings at a backfoot slider and misses for a strikeout. Wimmer, who came in for defense last inning, comes to the plate and goes ahead 3-1. He walks. Heinrich fouls out in front of the visitor dugot. Burgess up, trying to move Clarke away from second base. Burgess hits a high pop fly to shallow right. I mean, that’s a catch that has to be made. But it isn’t. And it’s a two-RBI single. Myers doubles down the left field line to put two in scoring position for Robinson, who also came in last inning for defense. He goes down swinging at a breaking ball out of the zone. Carolina leads 12-1.
SEVENTH INNING: First pitch of the collegiate career for Magiel Cotto - plunked hitter. But comes back to K Cleary, who had two walks against Farr. And then Ks top of the order hitter Riccardi with a 91 mph FB. And Brady Allen makes a great running catch crashing into the tarp to end the inning. ... Burgess leads off the inning bouncing a single back up the middle to bring up Myers. He walks. Callil comes up and hits a drive to deep center, which is caught on the track. Sightler, pinch hitting, swings at the first pitch and skies out to left center. Milone up. He goes down swinging at a fastball strike to end the inning. Carolina leads 10-1.
SIXTH INNING: Big boy Pujols strikes out looking at a 94mph fastball. But big boy Brickman jumps on a first pitch fastball and puts it on the walkway to left field. Milone makes a throwing error on a charge play to his left. He looked into his glove after he fielded the ball, almost surprised he had it. Took him off his rhythm. A line drive single the other way puts runners on the corners with one down. Hand cannon. Burgess guns down a runner at second base. Ball in foul territory behind first base is dropped as Mendham and Heinrich collide. But Farr gets a looking K on a 94 mph FB to end the inning. ... Callil slices a double out of the reach of the right fielder. Allen goes behind 1-2, then hits a rocket on an offspeed pitch over the centerfielder’s head. That’s a double for Allen. Milone fouls out to first. Clarke shoots a line drive just over the second baseman for another RBI. Mendham gets some bat on a breaking ball, but pops out to left. Eyster bounces a 3-1 single back up the middle to put two on with two outs. Heinrich gets locked up on a changeup to go down 1-2 in the count. Heinrich grounds into a fielders choice to end the inning. Carolina leads 10-1.
FIFTH INNING: Farr has absolutely dominated with his fastball. Hasn’t had to show anything else very often. K on another 95 mph heater to lead off the inning. That was a three-pitch strikeout, then a two-pitch pop up to shortstop. Really nice AB by nine-hole Cleary, who works his second walk. I bet he’s up in the order tomorrow. Jam shot single through the right side put two on with two down. Eyster makes a catch just off the infield grass to end the inning. Farr at 71 pitches. ... Eyster hits almost the exact same shot he did his last at-bat, but this one doesn’t quite carry over the wall. Right fielder shoulda made the catch, but gets over his head and off the wall back by him for a triple. Heinrich goes down on a pitch in the dirt. But Burgess gets the runner home from third with a fly ball to left field. He’s in standing up. Myers bounces out 4-3 to end the inning. Carolina leads 8-0.
FOURTH INNING: A 95mph fastball to cleanup hitter Brickman sends him back to the bench with Farr’s fourth K of the game. Cabrerra pops out to shallow left. Make that five punchouts, that one also on a 95 mph FB. ... Maybe the left fielder can play a little defense. He charges on a sinking liner off the bat of Callil to make the catch. Allen takes an offspeed pitch at the top of the zone to go 2-2, then fouls back a fastball. He hits a line drive double to left center after a couple more pitches seen. Milone hits an 0-2 soft liner to center, which is caught for the second out of the inning. Clarke goes from 0-2 to 3-2. Fastball down and away just misses, for a seven-pitch walk. Mendham up with another RBI opportunity. We’ll see what he learned his first two at-bats. If the first swing was evident, it was nothing. We’ll see. Four breaking balls, and he’s held back on two out of the zone. It’s 2-2. Bounces a fifth breaking ball to the right side, and shortstop makes the play out of the shift. Carolina leads 7-0.
THIRD INNING: Two pitches, one out. Eight-hole hitter pops up to short. Farr’s fastball is 94-95mph this inning. He’s on about an 85 pitch count. Four-pitch walk to the nine-hole guy. Off-the-end-of-the-bat bloop single falls in shallow right center as dark clouds roll over Founders Park. Unfortunately, not sarcasm. Farr gets Tirotta swinging at a 94 mph fastball for the second out of the inning. Deep fly ball to left field. Eyster drifts back and makes the catch right on the edge of the track. Not far away from being tied, but another zero on the board for Farr. ... Brady Allen triples off the top of the left center field wall. Bounces past the centerfielder and Allen coasts into third base for a triple. Milone falls behind in the count 0-2. Takes a 1-2 fastball just inside. Another one. Then a breaking ball inside to walk. Two on for Clarke. He goes ahead 2-1 on a fastball up. Fastball in misses, 3-1. Change in the dirt. Bases loaded for David Mendham. He’s down 0-1 pulling hard off of a breaking ball. That’s what he did his first AB. Does it again. K. Eyster up, and falls behind quickly 0-2. Elevated breaking ball that Eyster goes the other way with, and he just has some real strength as it carries, carries and carries into the USC bullpen. That’s 7-0. Heinrich with a first pitch single off the mound and into center. Burgess grounds out, and so does Myers. Gamecocks lead 7-0.
SECOND INNING: First pitch to Brickman, the four-hole hitter, and he hits a little bouncer back to the mound. One down. Cabrerra singles an 0-2 pitch through the right side, and the perfect game and no hitter are both over. (sarcasm font) No one warming up in the bullpen. Huge mistake. (/sarcasm font) Full count to Blackwell, who gives a great 3-1 kind of swing and swings through a fastball. Lazy fly ball to left ends the inning. ... Colin Burgess still hasn’t seen a first pitch he doesn’t like. Pops out to left. Myers goes down on strikes, and Callil grounds out to short. Easy inning there for Wolfe. Carolina leads 3-0.
FIRST INNING: Thomas Farr on the bump, and he’s a flame thrower. Up to 97. Throws nothing but fastballs to the first two hitters of the game, and gets a weak pop up to deep short and a weak ground ball to short. Callil factors into the first two outs of the season. Big boy first baseman swings through a first pitch fastball. Farr with a 2-1 changeup gets a swing and a miss. Then a 97mph fastball tipped into the glove of Colin Burgess ends the inning. Farr looks as advertised in the first inning. ... After fouling back the first pitch he sees, Allen takes three balls out of the zone to go ahead in the count 3-1. After fouling away a pair of two-strike pitches, he takes a fastball inside for Ball 4. Milone drives a first pitch single to left. Their left fielder must not be any good defensively as he’s playing on the wall. Of course, maybe he’s playing there because the Gamecocks can hit it a long way. After a mound visit, Clarke jumps all over a first pitch fastball and drives it just over the centerfield wall. Clarke said he wanted to get to 70 RBIs this season. Good start with three right there. Mendham fans at a breaking ball away for the first out of the game. Eyster hits a rocket, but right back at the pitcher who makes the play. Fortuitous. Fastball with some run gets Heinrich swinging at the first pitch, then an offspeed pitch has him down 0-2. Nice running play by the first baseman in foul territory not too far from the tarp. Carolina leads 3-0.