Hill's no-hit performance sparks Gamecocks to big win over Vanderbilt

Hill's no-hit performance sparks Gamecocks to big win over Vanderbilt

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

After two gut-wrenching losses to Vanderbilt on Thursday and Friday, South Carolina needed something special to lift their spirits in Game 3 on Saturday. 

Photo gallery by Allen Sharpe

They got it from sophomore right-hander Adam Hill, who no-hit the Commodores for six innings and led the Gamecocks to a 6-1 win at Founders Park. 

Photo gallery by Jenny Dilworth

South Carolina (21-10, 7-5 in the SEC) lost to Vandy 7-6 Thursday night after its late-inning rally fell short. On Friday, the Gamecocks wasted a spectacular start from Clarke Schmidt, carrying a 3-2 lead into the ninth before Colie Bowers gave up the tying run with two outs. Vanderbilt won it in the 13th on a two-run home run by Julian Infante. The loss came five days after blowing a 5-3 lead at Auburn when closer Josh Reagan gave up walk-off home run. 

Gamecocks suffer tough loss in 13 innings 

Carolina entered Saturday's game needing a win  to avoid their fourth straight SEC loss and a sweep by Vanderbilt. 

"It wasn't' a good night for us, our kids or our coaches," head coach Chad Holbrook said about Friday night's loss. "Our kids kinda willed their way to this win today."

"We knew we had to come out here and fight," said second baseman LT Tolbert, who sparked the South Carolina offense with a three-run home run.  "The last thing we wanted to do was get swept. I think we just came out with a chip on our shoulder and wanting to prove something." 

After Wil Crowe got hit hard in Game 1 and the bullpen gave up the tying and winning runs on Friday, Hill delivered the performance South Carolina needed on the mound, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh. He walked five but tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts. 

Rally falls short in Game 1 vs Vanderbilt

After walking the first batter in the seventh, Hill left the game after 110 pitches. Reagan relieved him and promptly gave up back-to-back singles to allow Vandy's only run. Reagan got out of the jam, however, and finished the game giving up just four hits in three innings.  

"Adam gave us a great chance to win and really proud of Reagan after what happened to him last week," Holbrook said. "Up to this point, this is our most important game of the year considering what happened in the last couple of games. He got some awfully big outs for us." 

Hill threw mostly fastball with a lot of movement. Though he walked five, he kept the Vanderbilt batters off stride with a lively fastball that was darting in and out of the strike zone. 

"It had a little bit extra life today. My command was erratic because I was getting a little more on it than I usually do," Hill said. "I was throwing it in there and it was working for me so I just kept throwing it."

Hill and most of his teammates didn't even know he had a no-hitter going until they noticed the zeroes on the board in the sixth inning.  

"I didn't even know, I was just kinda locked in, trying to get outs and do what I can," Hill said.  

"We really needed it because we were going to be thin in the bullpen no matter what," Holbrook said. "Getting us to the seventh inning was really big. … With what our team has been through the last 10 days, that was a really big win for us." 

The Gamecocks took a 3-0 lead in the second on a big blast by Tolbert. Alex Destino and Chris Cullen singled to start the inning and, with one out, Tolbert launched a drive over the right field wall for his second home run of the weekend and second of the season. 

The early runs were big because South Carolina did not score after the third inning of the 13-inning loss Friday and had just two hits in the last seven innings. 

"That gave us some momentum in our dugout and we knew with the way Adam was throwing, three runs were going to be tough to come by," Holbrook said. 

South Carolina added a run in the third when TJ Hopkins doubled, Jonah Bride bunted him to second and Destino hit a long sac fly to center to score him. 

Hopkins knocked in a run in the two-run seventh, driving in Madison Stokes, who walked, with a sharp single to center. Matt Williams, who doubled, scored on an RBI groundout by Destino to give South Carolina a 6-1 lead. 

The win snapped a three-game losing streak in the SEC for the Gamecocks, who had lost four of five after starting 5-1 in conference play.  

"I told the team, you are going to look back at win number seven in the league and say that that was an awfully big one," Holbrook said. "Our backs were against the wall. 

"I have a good feeling that we will look back in May and June and say that that Sunday win against Vanderbilt was the biggest win of the year."