COLUMBIA - The University of South Carolina's rally against VMI fell just short in game one of the 2018 campaign, falling 7-6 on Friday evening in front of a crowd of 7,384 at Founders Park.
VMI got the scoring started in the top of the first after a Peyton Maddox line drive to shallow left field scored Matt Pita from second base.
The Gamecocks came out strong in their half of the first inning, scoring four runs on as many hits. Jonah Bride singled and advanced to second on a throwing error from VMI's Jacob Jaye, which allowed Carlos Cortes to score from second base. The very next batter, Madison Stokes, roped a double to the left-field wall, scoring Bride from second. Jacob Olson capped off the big inning with a two-run home run to left field.
VMI answered in the top half of the second as Michael Diodato doubled off the wall in left center, scoring Collin Fleischer from second base. A Nathan Eaton sacrifice fly to left field scored Matt Dunlevy and cut the Gamecocks lead to 4-3.
The Gamecocks added another run in the bottom half of the third inning, again off of a double to leftfield from Stokes. The hard-hit grounder stayed just fair, and Cortes was able to score from second once again.
VMI yet again fought right back with a big four-run fourth inning. A three-run homer then a solo shot back-to-back from Nathan Eaton and Matt Pita in the top of the fourth inning gave the Keydets the lead back, this time for good.
Derek Tremblay received the win for VMI, as he struck out two in two innings of relief. Senior right-handed starter Adam Hill received the loss, as he struck out six but surrendered seven runs on 5 hits in 4.0 innings of work. John Gilreath also looked solid in 4.0 innings of relief, allowing no runs on 3 hits.
On the fast offensive start followed by the lack of offense...
"The key there was we struck out too many times with runners in scoring position. I thought the guys got really excited with the big home run in the first inning and then started over swinging. It's fine to let the bat fly like we did with less than two strikes but guys were too big with two strikes tonight and that's why we lost the game." -Head Coach Mark Kingston
In the top of the fourth, South Carolina looked to get out of the inning with a 2-6-3 double play, but that was overturned to a hit by pitch. Two batters later, Nathan Eaton hit a three-run home run to left. Matt Pita followed him with a solo home run to left to give the Keydets a 7-5 lead.
LHP John Gilreath, in his first outing as a Gamecock, did not allow a run in four innings of relief, keeping the deficit to just one run.
- Head Coach Mark Kingston coached his first game in a Gamecock uniform on Friday night.
- Freshman Noah Campbell earned his first career start, leading off as the designated hitter.
- Junior Jacob Olson belted his seventh home run as a Gamecock with his first-inning blast.
- South Carolina falls to 86-40 on Opening Day and snaps a two-game winning streak in the season lidlifter.
- Senior Madison Stokes had a pair of doubles in a game for the second time in his career. He did the trick on May 21, 2016 against Alabama.
South Carolina and VMI continue the three-game series on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 17) with a noon first pitch at Founders Park.
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