Crowe, timely hitting lead Gamecocks past Michigan State

Crowe, timely hitting lead Gamecocks past Michigan State

**Story by Jeff Owens/Photo by Allen Sharpe**

Wil Crowe had just collected his ninth strikeout of and had two outs in the seventh when he gave up a double to Michigan State's Matt Byers.

That sent South Carolina pitching coach Jerry Myers out of the dugout to make a change. Crowe didn't want to give up the ball, but he knew it was coming. 

"When he got the hit, that was when I started fighting for it. I wanted to get out of it but coach came out there and said they were going to Josh," Crowe said. 

Schmidt, Bride lead Gamecocks by MSU in Game 1

Crowe turned the ball over to closer Josh Reagan, and the senior left-hander did the rest, pitching out of the jam and giving up just two hits over the final 2.1 innings to close out South Carolina's 5-2 win over Michigan State. 

"I have a lot of confidence in Josh, so I was fine giving him the ball right there," Crowe said. "He's got great stuff and he got me out of that." 

The Gamecocks used the formula that makes them one of the top teams in the country — strong starting pitching and timely hitting — to win Game 2 against Michigan State and take the series. 

Crowe shut down the Spartans for seven innings, Alex Destino had a two-run single, LT Tolbert a two-run double and Matt Williams had three hits, including his first home run. Reagan finished it off as South Carolina won its fourth straight game to improve to 11-5. 

"The story of the game was our pitching again and we had some timely hits in there, some good two-strike hits. A good win for our team," head coach Chad Holbrook said. 

Crowe was outstanding in his fourth start of the season, giving up just one run and three hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out nine on 104 pitches. 

He allowed two hits, including a solo homer, in the second inning, and didn't give up another hit until the seventh. Reagan got a strikeout to end the inning and added another punch-out to give the Gamecocks 11 for the game. 

"Will was terrific and Josh was terrific. Just a well-pitched game and a well-played game by our team," Holbrook said.  

The Gamecocks got on the board early when Jacob Olson walked in the first, Williams singled and Destino drove them home with a two-run single. 

Michigan State got a run back in the second when Alex Troop homered over the right-field fence. Troop, the Spartans' starting pitcher Friday night, was in the lineup as the designated hitter Saturday. 

The Gamecocks erupted for three runs in the fifth. Williams led off with his first home run of the year for a 3-1 lead. Chris Cullen and Destino then walked, and Jonah Bride bunted them to second and third. Tolbert followed with a scorching ground ball that hit the first base bag and ricocheted into right field for a two-run double. Madison Stokes was hit by a pitch and Hunter Taylor singled to load the bases but South Carolina could not score again. 

Williams, who saw his 12-game hitting streak end Friday night, had three hits to raise his average to a team-leading .413. 

After giving up two hits in the second, Crowe was dominant. He struck out the side in the third and didn't allow another hit until the seventh. 

"Wil got into a little bit of a rhythym," Holbrook said.  "He had a great fastball early and then he started pitching in the middle innings, using all his pitches." 

"I had good fastball control and was able to spot up my fastball," Crowe said. "I was kinda wild, but I think it was effective." 

He cruised for four innings until Reagan took over. 

"I was just doing what I want to do and having success," he said. "When I am throwing like that I really just want to keep the game going, keep a fast pace so the guys out there playing behind me can keep their feet under them and really get the game going."

Game 3 of the series is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, weather permitting.