COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior first baseman Matt Williams had a career day going 3-for-5 with a solo homer and two runs scored and junior right-hander Wil Crowe allowed just one run and struck out nine in 6.2 innings of work as seventh ranked South Carolina clinched the series with a 5-2 victory over Michigan State on Saturday evening at Founders Park. The Gamecocks are now 11-5 with Michigan State dropping to 9-4 on the year.
Crowe improved to 3-0 with the win. He allowed one run on three hits with three walks and tied his season-high with nine strikeouts. Senior left-hander Josh Reagan earned his first save of the season after allowing an unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts in 2.1 innings of relief. Spartan right-hander Ethan Landon suffered the loss and is now 0-1 on the year. He allowed two runs on two hits with three walks and one strikeout in just 1.1 innings of work.
Alex Destino gave the Gamecocks an early two-run lead with a two-out single up the middle in the first inning. A Jacob Olson walk and single from Williams set the stage for Destino, who knocked the first pitch he saw over the head of MSU second baseman Dan Durkin.
Michigan State responded in the top of the second as Alex Troop belted a two-out solo home run to right field, his first homer of the year.
Williams led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo homer to right field to extend the lead back to a pair of runs. Chris Cullen and Destino each followed with walks and advanced on a sacrifice bunt delivered by Jonah Bride. LT Tolbert drove both runners in with a double down the right field line, giving Carolina a four-run lead. The Spartans would get a run back in the eighth but that would be it as Carolina earned the three-run victory.
LT Tolbert’s two-run double in the fifth inning increased Carolina’s lead to four runs.
• Wil Crowe reached nine strikeouts for the second time of the season and was one short of his career-high. He also had nine strikeouts on February 25 in a win vs. Wright State.
• LT Tolbert tallied his first double of the season. He went 1-for-3 at the plate with two RBI.
• Matt Williams recorded a career-high three hits, including his first home run of the season. He has now successfully reached base in 14 consecutive games.
• Alex Destino tied a season-high with two hits. He has reached that total four times this year.
QUOTABLE Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“I’m very proud of our team. It’s a big win for us against a really good Michigan State team. It would not surprise me at all if they’re the Big 10 champions at the end of the year. We feel very fortunate to have won the first two games. I thought Wil [Crowe] was outstanding and Josh [Reagan] that was the story. [Alex] Destino got us off to a good start with a two-out hit there in the first. We were able to do enough from that point forward to win the game. We had a couple of opportunities to score that we didn’t capitalize on, but Hunter Taylor brought some energy and juice. He brings something to the team every time I put him in the lineup. It was great to see him play the way that he did. The story of the game was our pitching again. We had some timely hits in there. We had some big two strike hits. [LT] Tolbert’s ball down the line was a big one to put us up 5-1 and obviously Destino’s two-out hit in the first. This was a good win for our team and (we’re excited heading into) tomorrow. It might be some blistery weather, but we’re going to do our best to try and play.”
South Carolina is back in action on Sunday, March 12 at 1:30 p.m. for the final game in the three-game series with Michigan State at Founders Park. It will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”