COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina managed to drive home five runs in the third, four in the fourth and five more in the sixth on its way to handing Utah Valley University a 15-3 setback in the series opener between the two teams on Friday evening at Founders Park in Columbia, South Carolina.
The Gamecocks (4-1) of the SEC managed to collect a total of 12 hits on the day, which included six extra-base knocks, on their way to earning the victory in the first of three games on the weekend between USC and UVU (1-3).
The Wolverines threatened right out of the gate with back-to-back two-out first-inning singles from Paul Estrada and Drew Sims to put runners on first and second. USC starter Carmen Mlodzinski then managed to escape the jam by striking out Alexander Marco to keep UVU off the scoreboard.
Utah Valley starter Jake Carr did a nice job of keeping the Gamecocks off of the scoreboard early on by striking out the side in the bottom of the first and retiring Carolina in order in the second to keep the game scoreless. In the third, the Gamecock offense managed to piece together a nice rally, however, to take a 5-0 lead. After allowing consecutive one-out singles, Carr then responded to strike out TJ Hopkins for the second out of the frame. With two outs, Luke Berryhill then delivered a two-out, two-run single to make it 1-0 Gamecocks. Jacob Olson then followed with a two-run homer to left and following a single from Andrew Eyster and a walk by Chris Cullen, Brady Allen made it 5-0 with a two-run double down the leftfield line to give South Carolina the early lead.
In the fourth, UVU then bounced back by quickly loading the bases following a trio of one-out walks from Marco, Mick Madsen and Jake Berry. Kade Poulsen then drove home Utah Valley's first run of the game with a fielder's choice to short that USC's Nick Neville bobbled to score Marco and make it 5-1. Following a strike out for the second out of the frame, UVU then managed to score a pair of unearned runs on a bases loaded walk drawn by Trevor Howell followed by a balk issued by Mlodzinski to drive in Berry and make it a 5-3 game.
In the last of the fourth, South Carolina then responded with four runs of its own to take a 9-3 advantage. After a pair of walks and a single from Hopkins loaded the bases, Berryhill then plated the first run of the frame by taking one for the team to make it 6-3. USC's Olson then followed with a two-run double to left to give Carolina an 8-3 lead. After a lineout and a walk, Allen then managed to work a bases loaded walk to make it 9-3. UVU freshman reliever Cole Yocum then came on and managed to get out of the bases loaded jam by striking out Neville and the Baseball America Preseason All-America honoree Noah Campbell looking to end the threat.
The Wolverines then got two on in the top of the fifth after Estrada was hit by a pitch and Madsen delivered a two-out bloop single to right to put runners on first and third. USC reliever Brett Kerry managed to escape the jam, however, by striking out Berry to keep it a 9-3 ballgame.
The Gamecocks then added to their lead with five insurance runs in the sixth to extend their lead to 14-3. Allen and Neville both drove in runs in the frame, while Campbell delivered the big blow with a three-run homer to right center. Carolina then added another run in the last of the eighth to seal the victory.
Six players recorded at least a hit apiece on the night for Utah Valley and Estrada led the way by going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, while Poulsen finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. Four Gamecocks recorded two hits apiece in the game and Olson fronted the group by going 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and four runs batted in. Campbell too had a nice game by going 2-for-4 with a homer, a walk, three runs scored and three RBIs.Comment on this story
USC reliever Kerry (2-0) was credited with the win after not allowing a run in two innings of work while the Wolverine starter Carr (0-2) was tagged with the loss.
The contest marked just UVU's fifth all-time meeting against an SEC foe and its first all-time against South Carolina. USC advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals a season ago.
The Wolverines and Gamecocks will continue the series on Saturday at noon MST at Founders Park for game two. The weekend finale is slated for Sunday at 11:30 a.m. MST. Both games will air live on SEC Network Plus (ESPN 3).