NASHVILLE, TENN. (USC SID) – Freshman right-hander Braden Webb struck out 11 batters in eight scoreless innings and limited third ranked Vanderbilt to just two hits as second ranked South Carolina defeated the Commodores 4-0 in game two of a three-game SEC baseball series. The Gamecocks improve to 24-4 and 7-1 in the SEC with Vanderbilt dropping to 22-5 and 5-3 in league play.
Fresh off 14 strikeouts vs. Ole Miss last week, Webb was masterful again on the mound not allowing a hit until a two-out double in the sixth inning and just two in the contest. He is now 6-1 on the year. Junior left-hander Josh Reagan pinched a perfect ninth to preserve the shutout victory. Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright suffered his first loss of the year and is now 4-1 for the season. He allowed two runs on six hits in 7.1 innings with three walks and five strikeouts.
Carolina broke ahead 2-0 in the top of the third inning. Marcus Mooney led off with an infield single, Gene Cone followed with a base hit and LT Tolbert was hit on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases with no outs. John Jones would drive in Mooney with a sac fly to center and Alex Destino knocked a RBI single up the middle to score Cone and give the Gamecocks a two-run lead.
Destino would come up with a huge out to end the fifth inning, as he corralled a long fly ball off the bat of Will Toffey. It was a scary play though as Destino went sprinting straight into the left field wall on the catch to record the third out. Destino was shaken up, but able to walk off on his own power despite a possible sprained left shoulder. Clark Scolamiero replaced him for the final four innings.
It remained 2-0 until the ninth when the Gamecocks got some insurance. DC Arendas led off with a single and was sacrificed over into scoring position by Mooney. After Gene Cone reached on a throwing error by VU second baseman Ethan Paul, the Gamecocks would scratch across two more runs as LT Tolbert belted a triple to right field to score both runners.
Alex Destino’s running catch into the wall in left field to end the fifth inning helped to keep the Gamecocks ahead 2-0.
Webb struck out 11 batters and combined with Josh Reagan for 13 strikeouts against the Commodores.
Alex Destino’s single in the second inning extended his hitting streak to 20 games. It is the longest hitting streak by a Gamecock since Jackie Bradley Jr. hit safely in 22 consecutive games in the 2010 season.
Gene Cone’s single in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Cone went 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
Webb’s eight innings tied a season-high for innings pitched that he set last week at Ole Miss. He has allowed just six hits and has struck out 25 batters in the last two outings.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“Braden was big league good. That’s two starts in a row that he has been real special. From a fastball standpoint, to location, to changeup, breaking ball, he has had it all going. You have to have it all going to put up numbers like that against a team like that. He handled himself way beyond his years. It was real neat to watch.”
“It was a great environment here tonight. Two great teams, (Braden) kept his cool and composure. I’m proud of him. He has grown up right under our eyes.”
“It’s hard to score off of Wright. Runs are hard to come by against him. (The two runs in the third) got us off to a good start. I didn’t think two was going to be enough. I was a lot more comfortable in the ninth up four than I was two.”
Freshman right-hander Braden Webb
“I feel like there were some spurts there where it was a real great outing. I still have stuff to work on. They are a great hitting team. I was able to locate some pitches in some good counts. It was a great outing, but I need to learn, work and move on from it.”
Sophomore outfielder Alex Destino
“He put a real good swing on the ball. I was dead sprinting backwards, the field being turf I didn’t really have much a warning track. I caught the ball, looked up and a big sheet of metal was right there. Luckily I was able to get my head out of the way and kind of take the brunt of the force to my body.”
“I feel fine, a little sore. Ready to see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow.”
The series with Vanderbilt concludes on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network and can be heard Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”