COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) – Junior right-hander Clarke Schmidt struck out a career-high 12 batters in 7.1 innings of work and Madison Stokes belted a two-run homer as seventh ranked South Carolina defeated Michigan State 3-2 in the series opener on Friday night at Founders Park. The Gamecocks improved to 10-5 on the year, while the Spartans dropped to 9-3 overall.
Schmidt improved to 3-0 on the season. He allowed two runs on eight hits and did not walk a batter. Senior right-hander Colie Bowers recorded his first save of the year after allowing only one hit with two strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. Michigan State left-hander Alex Troop suffered the loss after allowing three runs on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts in eight innings of work. He is 2-1 on the year.
Michigan State broke ahead 1-0 in the top of the third inning when Marty Bechina delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle to bring Danny Gleaves in from second base.
The Gamecocks did not have a hit entering the fifth inning, but got to Troop with a pair in the bottom of the frame. After Jonah Bride reached second on an error by right fielder Dan Chmielewski to lead off the inning, South Carolina went ahead 2-1 as Stokes launched a two-run homer over the left field fence.
Bride added an insurance run for the Gamecocks in the bottom of the seventh. He reached third on a triple to left-center. With one out, LT Tolbert would go down swinging on strikes. With the ball in the dirt, MSU catcher Matt Byars had to throw down to first to record the out. On Byars’ throw to first, Bride raced home and beat the throw from Michigan State’s first baseman Zack McGuire to score Carolina’s third run.
Michigan State cut Carolina’s lead to one run in the top of the eighth inning. With one out and runners on second and third base, Brandon Hughes knocked a grounder to second to score Dan Durkin. Bowers would get out of the inning though as he induced pinch hitter Kory Young into a flyout to left field. Bowers would allow just an infield single in the ninth inning to preserve the Carolina victory.
Madison Stokes’ two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning gave the Gamecocks a lead they would not relinquish.
Clarke Schmidt and Colie Bowers combined for 14 strikeouts. South Carolina has put together four straight games with 10 or more strikeouts.
- Madison Stokes recorded his second home run of the season. He went 1-for-2 at the plate with two RBI.
- Clarke Schmidt tallied a career-high 12 strikeouts. His previous best was 11, which he last tied on Feb. 24, 2017 vs. Wright State.
- Jonah Bride notched his first career triple.
- Matt Williams has successfully reached base in 13 consecutive games.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“That was a great game. Their kid [Alex Troop] was terrific. We knew he was good coming into the game. I knew in the first inning with his delivery, changeup and he could locate his pitches, it was going to be a struggle to score, especially with the wind blowing in the way it was. Madison [Stokes] got in to one and that kind of got us some momentum. We made some really big pitches with people out there. Colie [Bowers] did a great job. Clarke [Schmidt] was outstanding. We played pretty solid defense behind Clarke. The strikeouts were key and that was a big part of it. Just a big win against a really, really good team. I’m proud of our players. In that UNC Greensboro series we lost a game in which we only gave one hit. (Michigan State) out-hit us nine to three. Maybe we’re having some good fortune come our way because it wasn’t with us that day, so maybe it’s evening out now. I’m proud of our team and hopefully we will come to the park ready to go tomorrow.”
The Gamecocks are back in action for game two with Michigan State on Saturday, March 11, at 4 p.m. at Founders Park. The first game is scheduled for Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m. It will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”