COLUMBIA, S.C. (Clemson SID) — South Carolina’s largest offensive output of the season carried the Gamecocks to a 23-2 victory on Sunday afternoon in an NCAA Columbia Regional elimination game. With the win, South Carolina stays alive in the Regional and will face UNCW for the right to advance to the Super Regional.
The Gamecocks set NCAA Tournament program records for runs scored and margin of victory in the win. South Carolina had topped the 20-run plateau once before in an NCAA postseason game, a 21-9 victory over FIU in 1998.
Freshman right-hander Adam Hill (7-0) collected the win for the Gamecocks; he threw 7.0 innings and allowed two runs while striking out six on 123 pitches. Rhode Island junior right-hander Ben Wessel (6-5) took the loss after allowing South Carolina’s first five runs over 3.0 innings.
Rhode Island is eliminated from the Columbia Regional, but they left the Palmetto State with their first NCAA Tournament victory in program history, a 5-4 win over the Gamecocks on Friday night.
Eleven different Gamecocks recorded base hits, led by a 4-for-4 effort from DC Arendas. The senior added a triple, a home run and three RBI and finished just a double short of hitting for the cycle.
Gene Cone, Alex Destino and LT Tolbert recorded three hits each while Tolbert scored a career-high four runs. In addition to the homer by Arendas, Destino and Matt Williams went deep.
Senior Ryan Olmo tallied two of Rhode Island’s three hits in the game, including a homer in his final collegiate appearance.
South Carolina served as the visiting team and brought two runs home in the top of the 1st inning. All of the damage came with two outs, as a Jonah Bride single scored a pair.
Rhode Island responded with a tally in the bottom of the 1st inning. Chris Hess led off the inning with a double, and he trotted home two batters later on Jordan Powell’s groundout. After an inning, the Gamecocks led 2-1.
The Gamecocks got the run back with more two-out magic in the 2nd inning. Cone laced a single up the middle, scoring Tolbert and stretching the lead to 3-1.
Arendas entered the game in the 2nd inning and made his presence felt one inning later. He launched a two-run homer with one out, giving the Gamecocks a 5-1 advantage.
Sophomore Andrew Veiga replaced Wessel at the start of the 4th inning, but the pitching change did not slow Carolina’s bats down. The Gamecocks scored another run in the inning, pushing the lead to 6-1 on a sacrifice fly from TJ Hopkins.
Rhode Island got back on the board with a 4th-inning home run from Olmo. The senior had homered just once in his first 53 games, but he found the seats for the second time in the Columbia Regional and cut Rhode Island’s deficit to 6-2.
South Carolina put some distance between themselves and the Rams with a huge 5th inning. The Gamecocks scored eight times, starting with a sacrifice fly by freshman Chris Cullen. Later, a bases-loaded balk brought home Arendas, and then Cone delivered a two-run single that stretched the lead to 10-2.
The inning wasn’t over, however. Destino belted his second home run of the Regional, a three-run shot, and later Arendas came up with an RBI triple. Midway through the game, South Carolina was up 14-2.
Four more runs came home for the Gamecocks in the 6th inning. Hopkins came up with the bases loaded and drove in three with a triple, and he later scored on a passed ball to make it 18-2.
South Carolina scored four more runs in the 7th frame. Tolbert doubled home a pair, and Marcus Mooney followed with an RBI single. Hopkins closed the scoring for the inning with an RBI groundout, making the score 22-2.
After getting blanked in the 8th inning, the Gamecocks scored again in the 9th. Sophomore Matt Williams hit a pinch-hit home run deep over the wall in right field.
South Carolina’s eight-run explosion in the 6th inning was the Gamecocks’ biggest of the season. It took the score from 6-2 to 14-2 and gave the Gamecocks the breathing room they needed to make several substitutions later in the game.
The Gamecocks set season highs for runs, hits, and margin of victory in the win.
South Carolina moves on to face undefeated UNCW at 6 p.m. as the Columbia Regional continues. The Gamecocks will need to beat the Seahawks twice to advance to the Super Regional round, while UNCW can advance to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend for the first time with one victory.