COLUMBIA – Three RBI’s from senior shortstop Madison Stokes and two apiece from senior infielders Jonah Bride and Matt Williams paved the way for the Gamecocks to defeat North Carolina A&T, 12-2, on Wednesday evening at Founders Park. The Gamecocks improve to 8-5 on the year.
Freshman right-hander TJ Shook earned his first win of the season on 2.1 innings of relief work. He allowed just one hit and no runs, and also struck out two in the win. Carolina starter Logan Chapman put in 3.2 innings of work, surrendering just one run on three hits with five strikeouts. NC A&T’s KJ McAlister suffered the loss and is 0-1 on the season. He allowed one run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in a single inning of relief work.
The Aggies got ahead to the early lead in the top half of the fourth inning. Greg White was hit by a pitch and later advanced to third after a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice. Ryne Stanley drove White in on a hard-hit grounder into left field to give the Aggies a 1-0 lead.
Carolina answered right back to tie it up in the bottom half of the inning after the Aggies made some miscues of their own. Jacob Olson got on base off of a fielder’s choice and then after Carlos Cortes walked, a passed ball and a wild pitch brought Olson to third and then home.
The Gamecocks struck again in their half of the fifth inning and never looked back. LT Tolbert singled, stole second and scored on Bride’s RBI single.
The Gamecocks kept it coming again in the sixth. Cortes singled and later scored off of a wild pitch. Madison Stokes then brought in a pair of runs on a single to center, making it 5-1.
Carolina broke it open and put the game out of reach for the Aggies with a six-run bottom half of the seventh. Matt Williams started it with a single through the right side, bringing in Chris Cullen from second and Olson from third. One batter later, TJ Hopkins walked to load the bases yet again. Stokes followed it up by reaching base on an error from the Aggies shortstop, allowing Hopkins to advance to third and scoring Cortes and Williams. The next batter, Tolbert, doubled to center field, scoring Hopkins from third and putting runners on the corners for Jonah Bride. Bride hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field, which scored Justin Row for the final run of the inning, making the Carolina lead 11-1.
Carolina plated their 12th and final run of the night in the bottom half of the eighth inning off of a Riley Hogan pinch-hit double down the right field line. Danny Blair scored from first base on the play.
“You want your seniors to set the tone. That guy that they threw today was just real, real funky. It really kept us off balance and he did a nice job … He keeps you off balance and he knows how to pitch. Once we got into that bullpen, I thought we started taking a lot stronger swings, more swings that we are used to seeing. And as you asked, you need your seniors to lead the way.” – Head Coach Mark Kingston
Jonah Bride’s two-out single in the fifth inning gave Carolina their first lead of the game and was followed by 10 more runs throughout the next three innings.
TJ Shook picked up the win tonight and has now thrown 8.2 scoreless innings on the year.
Madison Stokes tied his career high with three RBI in the win. He originally set that in the 2016 Columbia Regional vs. UNC Wilmington (June 7).
Stokes, LT Tolbert and Jonah Bride had two hits apiece, part of a 13-hit outburst from the Gamecocks.
Kyle Jacobsen made his first start in a Gamecock uniform, walking twice and scoring a run.
The two teams combined to use 13 pitchers in the midweek contest.
The Gamecocks walked 11 times on the night and allowed just two free passes.
South Carolina will continue the homestand on Friday night vs. Princeton. First pitch is 7 p.m.