Bride's late heroics lead Gamecocks to win over Davidson

Bride's late heroics lead Gamecocks to win over Davidson

South Carolina did not have a hit entering the seventh inning against Davidson on Tuesday night, and the Gamecocks were trailing by two runs.

However, Jonah Bride provided the spark with a double, and later drove in the game-winning run with another double as the Gamecocks came away with a 3-2 win over the Wildcats despite just three hits on the night.  

"We gave up one hit to an opponent earlier in the year, and lost," head coach Chad Holbrook said. "Baseball has a way of giving some back. We got outhit 7-3, but we found a way to win. Our pitching kept us in the game, and Jonah had a big night for us. We don't win the game without him."  

Starting pitcher Cody Morris had a fantastic start for the Gamecocks (23-13), striking out the side in the top of the first inning. The freshman set down eight in a row before an infield single in the third broke up the perfect game.

Morris forced a flyout to get out of the third, but encountered some trouble in the fourth inning. Davidson's Will Robertson led off the frame with a home run into the bullpen in left-center for the first run of the game. Two batters later, Brian Fortier launched a no-doubt solo shot into the bleachers in left to make it 2-0. After hitting a batter with two outs in the fourth, Morris was pulled in favor of another freshman, Colby Lee. 

Morris gave up the two runs on three hits to go with five strikeouts in 3.2 innings pitched. 

"I thought he threw extremely well," Holbrook said of Morris. "I thought he became one-dimensional when they got to him a little bit, and lost command of his off-speed stuff. But he had better command of his fastball today, so it was good to see." 

Photo gallery by Allen Sharpe

Davidson starting pitcher Josh Hudson entered the game with an 8.82 ERA, but was on point against South Carolina. He had some walks, and his defense committed an error behind him, but the Gamecocks could not squeeze a hit off him.

Finally, to lead off the seventh inning, Bride registered the Gamecocks' first hit with a double to right-center field. A walk and sacrifice bunt by Madison Stokes put two runners in scoring position, and pinch-hitter John Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases. 

Sophomore Jacob Olson came up and promptly tied the game with a two-run single to right that scored Bride and Matt Williams. 

An inning later, Bride doubled again, but this time it gave South Carolina the lead for the first and last time. 

Alex Destino walked to lead off the eighth before LT Tolbert's sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Bride then laced a double off the wall in left field to score Destino and make it 3-2. 

After grounding out and popping up in his first two at-bats, Bride said he moved up in the batter's box against Hudson, and that made all the difference. Just a couple of pitches before that first double, Bride hit a ball that appeared to hit near the foul pole in left field. It was initially called a foul ball, and after a lengthy review the umpire determined there was inconclusive evidence to overturn the call. Bride said he was thinking about the call after the fact, but was able to stay focused enough to get a huge hit.

"It was a little tough sitting there for a minute, but you have to get your mind right and go right back in there," Bride said. 

Closer Tyler Johnson entered the game in the top of the ninth inning, and worked around a one-out double to strike out the side to pick up save No. 5 on the year. After missing more than a month with injury, it seemed Johnson was himself again as he registered 99 MPH on the radar gun against the Wildcats.

"When you see 99's on the board, I don't think he's gun-shy," Holbrook said. "He's healthy. Our medical team did a great job with him. We were very conservative. We didn't rush him back." 

Colie Bowers picked up the victory to improve to 3-0 on the year after 1.2 innings of one-hit ball to go with two strikeouts. 

South Carolina hits the road for a pivotal weekend series at Florida that starts on Thursday. First pitch for the opener is set for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNU. 

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**