TUSCALOOSA, ALA. – John Jones and Dom Thompson-Williams each hit their seventh home runs of the season and backed freshman right-hander Braden Webb, who allowed one run in six-plus innings of work as sixth ranked South Carolina defeated Alabama 4-2 to clinch a three-game SEC baseball series. The Gamecocks are now 41-13 and 19-9 in the SEC with Alabama 31-23 and 15-14 in league play. With the win, Carolina has also clinched a top four seed and a bye in next week’s SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks have clinched a top four seed in three of four seasons under head coach Chad Holbrook.
Webb struck out nine and walked two to earn the victory. He is now 10-4 on the year. Sophomore right-hander Tyler Johnson struck out the lone batter he faced to earn his eighth save of the season. Alabama right-hander Jake Walters suffered the loss and is now 5-4 on the year. He allowed four runs on eight hits in seven innings of work.
Both teams traded runs in the first inning. Three consecutive two-out hits led to a 1-0 lead for the Gamecocks in the top of the first. Alex Destino and Dom Thompson-Williams each singled to right with Destino scoring on Jonah Bride’s RBI single to center field. Georgie Salem tied it up in the bottom half for Alabama on a two-out solo homer off the right field pole.
Carolina regained the lead in the top of the fifth as Jones belted a two-run homer to give the Gamecocks a two-run lead. After a walk to Chris Cullen opened the frame, Jones launched a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall for his seventh homer of the year.
That lead increased to 4-1 in the sixth inning as Thompson-Williams launched a solo homer over the right field wall.
Alabama threatened in the eighth inning. The Crimson Tide loaded the bases and cut Carolina’s lead to a pair on a two-out walk to pinch hitter Ryan Blanchard. Junior left-hander Josh Reagan worked out of the jam though as he forced Holcombe into a flyout to right field keeping the Gamecocks ahead by a pair of runs.
In the ninth inning after Chandler Taylor’s two-out single brought the tying run to the plate, Johnson set down Will Haynie with a strikeout to preserve the victory.
Heading into the final day of conference play, the Gamecocks are third in the SEC, one-half game behind Mississippi State and Texas A&M and one-half game ahead of Florida in the Eastern Division. Florida plays twice against LSU on Saturday, who is one game back of the Gamecocks. Mississippi State plays Arkansas and Texas A&M hosts Ole Miss.
Jones’ two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning.
The Gamecock pitchers limited Alabama at the plate when the Crimson Tide threatened as Alabama finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
John Jones drove in a pair of runs and is tied for the team lead in multi-RBI games with 13 on the year along with Alex Destino.
Madison Stokes went 2-for-4 at the plate and has five hits in the series vs. Alabama. Thompson-Williams also had a multi-hit night going 2-for-4 as well. Eight of the nine starters in the lineup had at least one hit with all nine reaching base.
Braden Webb’s 10 victories moves him one win shy of Kip Bouknight’s school record 11 wins by a freshman in 1998.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
It was a big win for us. I couldn’t be more proud of our team with the way they competed and battled. (Walters) is a really good pitcher that we were able to get four runs against and make it hold up. Obviously Braden struggled early with his command, but pitched out of some jams. Reagan did the same thing, that big out in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, I felt that we took a deep breath after that big out. We got the first two in the ninth and Tyler was special for the last out in the ninth. It was a team win, obviously a very important game for a lot of reasons. We will strap it on tomorrow and see if we can find a way to win another one.
(on clinching a bye into Wednesday at the SEC Tournament) I think it says you are one of the top four teams in this conference, the number one conference in the country. I think it says we’ve had a great regular season. It’s just a goal every year, compete to win a championship or finish in the top four, we have a chance to (win a championship) tomorrow. We’ll see if we have enough left in the tank to play a great game tomorrow. Regardless, we know we play (next) Wednesday and we know we have finished in the top four. I’m awfully happy.
South Carolina and Alabama close out the series and the SEC slate on Saturday with first pitch at 3 p.m. ET at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.