Stephen Duke, Correspondent
The Gamecocks secured a crucial series win over the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs this past weekend on Friday, February 28 through Sunday, March 1 and walked away with two of the three games in the series.
In the first game on Friday night, the Gamecocks won 9-3 over the Bulldogs. Senior Andrew Naismith had an impressive game, turning in a 4-5 night at the plate and an RBI double in a two-run seventh inning. The four left-handers accumulated nine of the 15 total hits for the Gamecocks.
Senior Alex Webb had a multi-hit game alongside sophomore Carson Crowe’s two singles. Senior Chase Robinson hit a game-tying triple in the bottom of the second inning. Meanwhile, junior Alex Strachan had back-to-back RBI doubles in the third and fifth innings.
Senior Tre Kirklin highlighted the bottom of the fourth inning, hitting his second home run of the season, which led to four additional runs in the inning. Kirklin’s home run was hit over the left field wall.
Junior Cole Fredrick and Webb reached on a pair of two-out hits, with a double from Webb. The Gamecocks also saw Junior Alex Carignan follow up Webb’s hit with an RBI double of his own.
Junior transfer Javier Ramirez hit his first RBI in a Gamecock uniform with a one-out single in the seventh, and Naismith’s RBI was his seventh on the season.
The Gamecocks also saw a great pitching game. Dylan Hathcock picked up his second win of the year in six complete innings and posted six of JSU’s ten strikeouts. Redshirt sophomore Tre Fortner also contributed two strikeouts, with Colton Lewis rounding out the night.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s game saw the Gamecocks give up a four-run lead, falling to the Bulldogs 8-7. The win by the Bulldogs prevented a sweep in the series by the Gamecocks.
The tide turned in this game in the sixth inning, when the Bulldogs had a three-run sixth inning. The Bulldogs then had a two-run eighth inning, which proved detrimental for the Gamecocks.
Kirklin had his second home run in the series, in addition to Naismith, Frederick, Webb and Brook Brannon all contributing hits of their own. Webb finished with a pair of RBIs in the loss.
The pitching crew also combined for at least eight strikeouts, resulting in all fans in attendance going home with a coupon for a free doughnut at Olio’s Doughnuts.
The Gamecocks took out their frustrations from Saturday’s heartbreaking loss by routing the Bulldogs 15-6 the following Sunday. Naismith was an effective hitter in this game, posting three doubles and driving in three runs.
In the effort, Naismith became the first Gamecock to record at least five hits in a single game since former Gamecock standout Nic Gaddis has six hits in a game against Florida International on March 3, 2018.
Frederick, freshman Jack Henry Milligan, Kirklin, Lewis, and redshirt sophomore Nash Adams all contributed hits for this game.
The pitching crew for the Gamecocks had ten strikeouts on Sunday, with sophomore Michael Gilliland posting five of them. Junior Colin Casey also contributed three strikeouts, while freshman Austin Downey and junior Sean Rape pitched in the final two innings of the win.
The Gamecocks will travel to Regions Field in Birmingham to wrap up the season series with UAB on Wednesday, March 3. They will then head to Charleston, Illinois to play in a weekend series against the Panthers of Eastern Illinois from Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 7 to start OVC play. All games can be streamed on the ESPN+ app.