Grant Benefield, Staff Sports Reporter
Gamecock baseball opened its 2018 campaign in convincing fashion with a three-game sweep over Southern Illinois by scores of 7-4, 10-9, and 6-0, in which the Gamecocks hit seven total home runs.
JSU kicked off its season Friday afternoon in Choccolocco Park in Oxford.
Sophomore first baseman Andrew Naismith delivered the first Gamecock runs of the year with a two-run blast in the second inning to give JSU the 2-0 lead.
Naismith didn’t stop there, delivering another home run in his next at-bat, this time a solo-shot that extended the Gamecock lead to 3-1.
Designated hitter Trent Simpson dropped the third bomb of the game for the Gamecocks in the fifth inning to make the score 5-1.
Simpson would be named OVC Co-Player of the Week for his efforts, sharing the honor with Tennessee Tech’s John Hamm.
Junior pitcher Garrett Farmer got the start on the mound and was excellent, allowing just one hit and one run along with five strikeouts and just one walk in his four frames of work. Farmer earned the W, and Simpson closed the game for the save.
In the second game of the series, Southern Illinois threatened to even the series at one a piece, but the Gamecocks would come back from a 7-2 deficit to defeat the Salukis 10-9.
JSU utlized the long ball again in game two, with outfielders Taylor Hawthorne and Matt Hammers each leaving the yard for five of the Gamecocks’ 10 runs.
Cody Willingham earned the win in relief for the Gamecocks, and Tyler Wilburn closed the door to secure the save and the comeback victory.
Game three of the series was a dominant encore for the Gamecocks, handily defeating Southern Illinois 6-0 for the series sweep.
JSU’s first two runs of the game came via solo shots from Simpson in the second, and Hawthorne in the fourth.
Aside from a few free passes, Colton Pate was masterful for the Gamecocks in his five innings of work, allowing just one hit and no runs with five strikeouts and four walks on his way to the W and the series sweep.