COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sophomore outfielder TJ Hopkins went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a pair of RBI and junior right-hander Clarke Schmidt allowed just one run in 6.2 innings of work as fourth ranked South Carolina opened the 2017 season with a 7-1 win over UNCG. Friday’s contest was played in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242 at Founders Park.
Schmidt limited the Spartans to a solo homer, three hits and a pair of walks as he earned his first win of the season. Schmidt struck out three in the victory. UNCG starter Jack Maynard suffered the loss. He allowed five runs on six hits in 3.1 innings of work.
South Carolina broke ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Hopkins led off with a double to right field and scored on Alex Destino’s one-out RBI single through the right side. Destino would make his way home with the second run benefiting from three wild pitches by Maynard.
UNCG cut the lead in half in the fourth on a solo homer by Dillon Stewart, who launched the first pitch he saw from Schmidt over the left field wall.
The Gamecocks answered though in the bottom half of the fourth with a four spot to take a 6-1 lead. With one out and runners on first and second base, Danny Blair knocked a RBI single to right field scoring Jacob Olson. Hopkins’ third hit of the day would score both LT Tolbert and Blair as he delivered a two-run double into the gap in right-center.
Carolina increased the cushion to six runs in the bottom of the 5th as Matt Williams scored on a wild pitch to give the Gamecocks a 7-1 lead.
– The sellout crowd was the 49th in Founders Park history.
– Blair tied a career-high in hits with three in the contest. Blair also had three Feb. 27, 2016 vs. Penn State. It marked his third career multi-hit game.
– Hopkins now has an eight-game hitting streak going back to last season.
– Senior right-hander Colie Bowers struck out the first four batters he faced and allowed just one hit in 2.1 innings of work.
– Destino finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI as well. Jacob Olson also went 2-for-3 with a run scored in his first career game with the Gamecocks.
– Olson, Carlos Cortes and Riley Hogan all made their Carolina debut in the season opener. – A moment of silence was held before the game as the Gamecocks honored longtime fan Bill “Oot Oot” Golding. An “”Oot Oot” flag hung from one of the flag poles near center field in honor of Mr. Golding and “Oot Oot” helmets were given away to fans attending the game.