Conway grad Holmes hurls Gamecocks to sweep of MSU

Junior right-hander Colby Holmes of Conway worked a season-high 8.1 innings and five different Gamecocks drove in at least one run as ninth ranked South Carolina defeated Mississippi State 6-4 on Sunday afternoon in front of 7,011 fans at Carolina Stadium to sweep a three-game SEC baseball series.

The Gamecocks have won three consecutive conference series and are 27-10 and 8-7 in the SEC. Mississippi State is now 21-15 and 5-10 in league play. This marked Carolina’s first weekend sweep in SEC play.

After two runs from Mississippi State in the top of the fifth inning gave the Bulldogs a one-run cushion, the Gamecocks were quick to answer back in their half of the frame as freshman Tanner English led off with a single to left field. Evan Marzilli delivered his second hit of the day to put runners on the corners for Walker. Mississippi State starter Evan Mitchell would issue a free pass to Christian Walker to load the bases for Dantzler.

Mississippi State made the call to the bullpen at that point, bringing in left-hander Jacob Lindgren. LB Dantzler tied the game with an RBI fielder’s choice to third, which resulted in all runners reaching safely, bringing Brison Celek to the plate. The sophomore from Charleston delivered an RBI sacrifice fly to right to put the Gamecocks on top. Adam Matthews would finish off the scoring in the Carolina fifth with an RBI infield single, scoring Walker, giving the Gamecocks a 4-2 lead.

Holmes continued his solid work, holding the Bulldogs to just their two runs on 100 pitches, through eight innings. The Gamecock bats put together a rally in the bottom of the eighth to score some insurance runs, with substitute catcher Grayson Greiner leading off the inning with a double. Second baseman Chase Vergason worked a walk to follow and the two runners were advanced by a sacrifice bunt off the bat of English. Joey Pankake broke the game open with a two-run single that extended the Gamecock lead to four.

Holmes returned to the slab for the ninth to try and close out the Bulldogs. After giving up two hits to start the ninth, Holmes battled back to strike out first baseman Wes Rea. Slauter got one back for Mississippi State, however, with an infield single that scored Daryl Norris. Holmes’ day would end there, marking his longest outing of the season. The bases were loaded after a walk was issued by the new pitcher, Hunter Privette. The Gamecocks would then turn to their bullpen once more to try and end the Mississippi State attack. Junior left-hander Tyler Webb would shut the door on the Bulldogs, giving up a RBI groundout and a flyout to end the game.

Holmes allowed four runs on eight hits while walking none and striking out three batters. He is 5-0 for the year. Mitchell suffered the loss and is 1-1 this season. He allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits in 4.1 innings with three walks and three strikeouts. Webb’s final two outs of the game earned him his second save of the year.

South Carolina reached double digits with hits finishing with 11 on the day. Marzilli was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Vergason tied a season-high with two hits. Pankake went 2-for-5 with two RBI and Matthews tallied two hits and a RBI as well. C.T. Bradford, Mitch Slauter and Hunter Renfroe collected two hits apiece leading the Bulldogs at the plate.

The Gamecocks made some offensive noise in the first, as junior Evan Marzilli drew a one-out walk. The centerfielder advanced to second on the first pitch to fellow junior Christian Walker with his seventh stolen base on the year. Walker hit a hard chopper to third, which was thrown wildly to first, allowing Marzilli to take third and put runners on the corners. LB Dantzler would follow by working a walk to load the bases, but the Gamecock bats were held at bay by sophomore pitcher Evan Mitchell and the game was scoreless after the first.

Both pitchers made quick work of the opposition in the second, but Marzilli got the Garnet and Black going in the bottom of the third with a leadoff triple off of the center field wall. Carolina marked the board first as Walker followed with an RBI groundout to second to put the Gamecocks up 1-0.

Mississippi State finally logged their first hit of the game in the top of the fourth as C.T. Bradford knocked an infield single to the left side. The base hit broke up pitcher Colby Holmes’s streak of ten straight retired batters to begin the game.

The Bulldogs got on the board in the top of the fifth with back-to-back one-out hits from Mitch Slauter and Hunter Renfroe to put runners on second and third. Tyler Fullerton stepped to the plate and dribbled a ball in front of the plate that Holmes tried to field and flip to Rosenberg to nab Slauter who was coming home. Holmes’s flip to the plate was not in time and the Bulldogs tied the game. Second baseman Sam Frost put the visitors on top with an RBI fielder’s choice to the pitcher, and the Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead to the bottom of the fifth.

South Carolina returns to action Tuesday night hosting College of Charleston at Carolina Stadium. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

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