by UofSC Athletic Communications
COLUMBIA - The University of South Carolina baseball team gave up two first-inning runs, but battled back to tie the game in the middle frames, then walk-off Liberty, 3-2, on a wild pitch with no one out in the ninth, claiming the series win Sunday afternoon (Feb. 17) at Founders Park.
Liberty scored both of its runs in the top of the first inning. With two out, Logan Mathieu singled and scored on Drew Baughman's double to left. Will Wagner then reached on a throwing error, bringing Baughman home.
The Gamecocks did not get their first hit until the fourth inning when TJ Hopkins smashed a home run high into the bleachers in left field to cut Liberty's lead to 2-1.
The Gamecocks kept the momentum going into the fifth when Andrew Eyster singled off the right field wall. Nick Neville followed that up with a double off the wall in left center to put runners on second and third with no outs and a chance to tie the game. Noah Campbell did just that as he got an RBI on a slow rolling fielder's choice to second, driving in Eyster and knotting the game at two runs apiece.
Carolina's bullpen did not allow a hit, keeping the game tied at two until the bottom of the ninth. Luke Berryhill led off the inning by drawing a walk. Jacob Olson then hit a blooper just out of reach of the middle infielders that advanced Berryhill to third. On the very first pitch of Quinntin Perez's at-bat, Garrett Price threw a wild pitch to allow Berryhill to come home for the game-winning run.
Freshman RHP Brett Kerry (1-0) got the win for the Gamecocks, striking out three and retiring all six batters he faced through two innings of work. For Liberty, Garrett Price suffered the loss, as he struck out four but gave up two hits and surrendered one earned run in 2.0 innings of work. Junior RHP Reid Morgan started the game for Carolina and had a solid outing in his first appearance in Columbia. Morgan struck out three, allowing six hits and just one earned run in six innings with no walks.
Carolina's pitching did not walk a batter while striking out six in the win.
Hopkins now has 10 career home runs after his solo shot in today's win. He already has matched last year's total with two. The team hit six home runs on the weekend.Brett Kerry threw three hitless innings of relief this weekend vs. Liberty, striking out five and not allowing a walk.Nick Neville ends the weekend leading the Gamecocks with a .444 batting average in nine plate appearances. He doubled in today's win.Today's attendance was 6,010 and the three-game series attendance was 20,243.Carolina now holds a 13-4 all-time series lead on Liberty.
South Carolina is back at Founders Park on Tuesday night (Feb. 19) with a 4 p.m. first pitch against Winthrop.