Streak snapped: Carolina takes down Tennessee
The streak stops at 10.
South Carolina knocked off Tennessee 6-2 on Friday night at Founders Park to snap a 10-series long losing streak in Southeastern Conference play. Three solo home runs and another strong outing from starting pitcher Cody Morris gave the Gamecocks (16-11, 3-5) its first series win since March 26 of last year.
Final box score
First-year head coach Mark Kingston has mentioned it before that his team, even including the Clemson series, hasn't won a big one in a while. Now, he smiles knowing that the streak is finished.
"We just wanted to win this series for this year," Kingston said. "We just want to win, period. This was a game we came out to try to win the series for the year's team. I guess you won't be able to ask those questions anymore, so it's not a terrible thing either."
South Carolina totaled 12 hits, which was its second-most in SEC play this year, with four different players having multi-hit games.
The Gamecocks scored the first two runs of the game on solo home runs, the first by Carlos Cortes and the second by Danny Blair. The home runs gave South Carolina, which entered the night fourth in the SEC in long balls, 40 for the season. Later, it would become 41.
The home runs put each hitter over .200 for the season. Cortes is second on the team in home runs with six while Blair had just 27 at-bats entering the night. Cortes was 3-for-4 in the game with a run scored and two RBIs.
"Carlos had a really good night, probably his best game of the year," Kingston said. "He was good, and I don't think it's coincidence that when he hits, we tend to score runs. I would love to be able to see this team hit on all cylinders, stay healthy and get all the guys going because I think we can hold our own."
Morris encountered his first significant trouble in the sixth inning when he allowed a walk and a double to begin the frame putting two in scoring position with the heart of the order coming up.
COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur.com) -- The sophomore, making his 17th career start, gave up an RBI groundout to Andre Lipcius, then got Benito Santiago to strike out and Brodie Leftridge to fly out to end the inning without any further damage.
That would be the end of the day for Morris, who gave up one run on four hits. He only walked one on the evening and struck out five in his 93-pitch performance. Morris dropped his ERA to 4.46, more than half a point, with his performance.
"Cody Morris was excellent tonight," Kingston said. "He really set the tone for us. When you get great starting pitching, everything seems to fall in line behind it."
Following the Vols' run, the Gamecocks came back with two runs in each of the next two innings. Sophomore Riley Hogan drove an RBI single back up the middle then came home on a wild pitch later in the sixth.
In the seventh inning, junior Jacob Olson launched his team-leading eighth home run, a solo shot that was tucked just inside the left-field foul pole. Senior Matt Williams chased home LT Tolbert with an RBI double.
"We have players helping us win who were backups earlier in the season," Kingston said. "I think that speaks to the character of what we have right now. The guys, no matter who is in the lineup, are continuing to fight and win baseball games."
Freshman Parker Coyne helped the Gamecocks hold onto what was its 4-1 lead at the time in the seventh inning when he entered with two runners on and one out. After catcher Hunter Taylor cut down a runner on the base paths, Coyne got Brandon Chinea to pop up to end the inning.
"We just had some guys show really good composure and make good pitches," Kingston said. "Parker did a really good job coming in and getting us out of a jam and minimizing damage. At this level, a big part of winning games is minimizing damage. To me, that's the key."
Junior Eddy Demurias picked up the final six outs of the game and registered two strikeouts in just 21 pitches. It was a non-save situation, but South Carolina pulled out all the stops to be sure it clinched the series.
South Carolina will look to pull off its first sweep of an SEC opponent since taking all three games from Tennessee to open league play last season. Game 3 of the series is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. on SEC Network. Junior Ridge Chapman will get the ball for the Gamecocks and will face right-handed pitcher Will Neely.
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