**Story by By Willie T. Smith III/Photo by Jenny Dilworth**
There were lots of things for South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook to be pleased about following his team’s 4-2 win over Alabama Sunday.
The Gamecocks rallied following a Friday night loss to claim back-to-back wins for their second straight Southeastern Conference series victory.
Regular Friday night starter Clarke Schmidt was impressive in his return to the mound after missing one appearance due to a strained oblique and left-hander John Parke had an impressive relief stint, while freshman Riley Hogan took advantage of a rare start with two hits and an RBI.
Just as satisfying for Holbrook was his team’s ability to fight back from adversity for the second straight day.
“It was obviously a very important win,” said Holbrook, whose team improved to 17-6 overall and 5-1 in SEC pay. “I’m really, really proud of my team because we’re having to put some guys in positions they haven’t been in with games on the line, conference games on the line.”
Front and center was designated hitter Hogan, who picked up two hits, including an RBI double in the sixth and Parke (1-1), who picked up his first victory after two innings of solid relief.
“It was exciting,” Hogan said of getting an opportunity to play. “It was a big game. We needed a win and I was excited to get to play. I’ve been waiting and trusting coach because he knows what he’s doing. You’ve just got to be patient.”
After scoring a run in the second and another in the sixth, the Gamecocks entered the seventh with a 2-1 lead.
Alabama quickly tied things in the seventh on a Cody Henry solo home run over the right-center field wall.
Parke entered with one out and a runner on first, sitting the Crimson Tide down with no further trouble.
The Gamecocks wasted little time re-gaining the advantage, scoring two in the seventh. Center fielder Danny Blair opened with a double to right field and scored when Alabama reliever Garrett Suchey committed a throwing error to third on a Madison Stokes sacrifice bunt. Stokes later scored on a Jonah Bride sacrifice fly.
Parke allowed a walk, while striking out one in his two-inning appearance. Colie Bowers entered with one out in the ninth and finished the job, earning his third save.
Schmidt looked comfortable during his six innings, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out five and did not allow a walk during his 72-pitch stint.
“I felt real good,” said Schmidt. “My goal was to go out there and get some outs. I knew I was on a pitch count to start out so I wanted to go out there, work quick and get some grounds balls.
“I did that. I wanted to keep them off the score sheet. It was my first time in a while throwing on Sunday so I had to go out there with a series win on the line. That was big.
The Gamecocks return to action Tuesday when they travel to Charleston to take on the The Citadel at 7 p.m.