Gamecocks demolish Georgia, 10-0, to close out regular season

Gamecocks demolish Georgia, 10-0, to close out regular season

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Jenny Dilworth**

After another heartbreaking loss on Friday to secure yet another SEC series loss, South Carolina faced the tough task of turning right around and playing the next day. 

But as they have all season long, the Gamecocks kept fighting and bounced back from adversity in a big way, blowing away Georgia by a final score of 10-0 on Saturday afternoon in the series finale.

It was the biggest SEC victory for South Carolina in more than four years. 

"I'm proud of my players for a lot of reasons," head coach Chad Holbrook said. "Our players showed a lot of pride for the uniform they wear and the program that they're a part of. They played a great game today." 

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After leaving 14 men on base in Friday's 5-4 loss, the Gamecocks (32-23, 13-17 SEC) made sure they took advantage of their opportunities on Saturday, scoring 10 runs and outhitting the Bulldogs, 12-3. Four pitchers combined to shut out Georgia. 

Danny Blair led off the bottom of the third with an infield single before Justin Row walked. Both runners advanced on a passed ball, and LT Tolbert drove home a run with a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Riley Hogan doubled to left, driving in another run, before John Jones' sharp single to right scored the third of the inning and chased Georgia starting pitcher Tony Locey.

South Carolina starting pitcher Colby Lee breezed through the first two innings, and set down eight in a row to start the game. However, after getting out of a bit of trouble in the third, he was unable to finish the fourth inning.

A single, hit by pitch and walk loaded the bases, and with two outs Lee was pulled in favor of Colie Bowers, who got an important fly ball out to keep the Bulldogs off the board.

Lee gave up just one hit in 3.2 innings while walking two and striking out three. 

"Colby got us off to a good start," Holbrook said. "Tough putting a responsibility like that on a freshman who hadn't been in a game like that too many times, but he just pitched well." 

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The Gamecocks tacked on another run in the fourth, thanks to two errors on the same play by Georgia second baseman LJ Talley. With one out, Danny Blair hit a ground ball at Talley, but he mishandled it and then his quick throw to first was wide of the bag, allowing Jonah Bride to score to make it 4-0.

After South Carolina put runners on first and third with no outs in the fifth, another error by UGA gave the Gamecocks another run. John Jones struck out for out No. 1 and Hogan was caught in a rundown for the second one. However, a wild pitch by the Bulldogs' Blakely Brown scored Carlos Cortes, and the Gamecocks took a 5-0 lead into the sixth inning.

Three more hits in the sixth added three more runs for South Carolina in the blowout. Row's two-run double down the left field line started the scoring, and Cortes added an RBI when he reached first on another Bulldog error. 

Overall, Georgia (25-31, 11-19 SEC) made four errors on the afternoon.

Bowers pitched extremely well in his 2.2 innings of work, allowing just one hit and one walk to go with two strikeouts. He was replaced with one out in the seventh inning by Tyler Johnson after hitting a batter. Bowers picked up the victory to improve to 5-1 on the year.

The Gamecocks added a run in the seventh and eighth innings, and scored at least one run in five straight innings on Saturday. It was a positive sign after a boatload of back-breaking losses this year.

South Carolina just hopes it can carry that good mojo into the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks will be the No. 11 seed and play on Tuesday morning. 

"Just have to win the whole dang thing now," Johnson said, referencing the popular movie Major League. 

Bride led the Gamecocks with three hits and three runs scored while Cortes and Blair also had two hits. Seven different players recorded an RBI and every position player but Alex Destino had a hit in the offensive barrage. 

"We've lost some very tough games and have had some things not go our way," Holbrook said. "But I'm one of those firm believers that you can't sit there and pout about bad luck. A lot of times you make your own luck in this game. I'm going to hold out faith that we can get on a little bit of a run here."