COLUMBIA, S.C. - The University of South Carolina's bats came alive behind multi-hit nights from Madison Stokes, Justin Row, and Hunter Taylor on Friday night (May 4) to take game one of the series from No. 4 Ole Miss, 13-5, in front of 7,559 fans at Founders Park. The Gamecocks improve to 27-18 (12-10 SEC) on the year while Mark Kingston picks up his 300th career win as a head coach.
For the Gamecocks, freshman RHP TJ Shook picked up the win in two innings of relief work, improving his record to 3-0 on the year. He gave up three hits and surrendered just one run while striking out a pair and walking one. Starter Logan Chapman went 4.0 innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits with one strikeout and three walks. For the Rebels, starter Ryan Rolison took the loss, making his record now 6-4 for the season. He gave up eight earned runs on 10 hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
The Gamecocks gave up a first inning home run to Ryan Olenek, the second batter of the game for Ole Miss, but quickly answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. Justin Row singled to second base with the bases loaded to bring home Carlos Cortes. Two batters later, Hunter Taylor singled to left field bringing home Madison Stokes and Jonah Bride to put the Gamecocks ahead 3-1 after the first inning.
Olenek got his second RBI of the game in the third to cut Carolina's lead to 3-2 on a single just over the infield that allowed Chase Cockrell to score from second and Jacob Adams to advance to third. No further damage came from the inning as Chapman retired the next two batters he faced.
After Stokes and Bride singled in the bottom of the third, Justin Row walked to load the bases with no outs. Stokes scored on a passed ball from Rolison and then LT Tolbert roped a double down the right field line that allowed Bride and Row to come home to put the Gamecocks on top, 6-2. Taylor's second single of the day put runners on the corners until TJ Hopkins singled to drive in Tolbert for Carolina's final run of the inning and a 7-2 lead.
The bottom of the fourth again saw the bases loaded with Gamecocks and no outs. Tolbert grounded out to first to score the first run of the inning and then Taylor brought home a run on an error from Rebels' shortstop Grae Kessinger to extend the USC lead to 9-2. Jacob Olson followed it up with his 10th home run of the year, a three-run shot to left field, to extend the lead to 12-2.
The Rebels added two more runs in the top half of the fifth to cut the lead to 12-4. Kessinger homered to start off the inning and then Cole Zabowski singled through the left side to plate Olenek for his second run of the game. Shook had runners on the corner with one out and worked out of the jam, striking out the next two batters he faced after Zabowski. Ole Miss added another run in the top of the sixth. Olenek had a part in yet another scoring play for the Rebels, doubling for his fourth hit of the game to drive in Jacob Adams and cut the Carolina lead to 12-5.
A double off the bat of Matt Williams in the sixth brought home Taylor and added another run for Carolina, making the score 13-5, where it would finish.
"That was pretty typical of how we've been playing as of late. Pitched well enough to win, our offense and defense were both really good, and we were able to win a game tonight against a top five team in America. That was another really good game for us and now we're on to tomorrow." -- Head Coach Mark Kingston
South Carolina's three run first inning set the tone for the rest of the game. Justin Row had an RBI and Hunter Taylor had two RBI's of his own in the frame.
On his birthday, Justin Row went 4-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
- Kingston now has a 300-198-1 record in his ninth season as a head coach.
- Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit while seven players scored at least one run in the win.
- Carolina is alone in third place in the SEC East, 1.5 games behind Georgia, who is in second.
- Madison Stokes set a career-high with three runs scored in Friday's win.
- Carolina has now won seven of its last eight games and has double figures in hits in seven of its last eight games.
South Carolina and Ole Miss will play game two of the three-game series Saturday afternoon (May 5) at 4 p.m. at Founders Park.