Alex Destino homered twice, including his second career grand slam, and John Jones added a grand slam, his third homer of the year, as 15th-ranked South Carolina defeated Penn State 16-5 on Saturday afternoon at Founders Park. The Gamecocks improved to 7-0 on the year, while the Nittany Lions dropped to 2-4.
Freshman right-hander Braden Webb improved to 2-0 with the victory. He allowed two runs — both unearned — on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings of work. Penn State right-hander Sal Biasi took the loss and is l-1 on the year. He allowed six runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings with three walks and two strikeouts.
The Gamecocks took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Jonah Bride singled and Jones walked to set the stage for Destino. On a 2-2 pitch, Destino drove his first homer of the season over the right field fence to give Carolina a three-run lead.
A pair of errors led to two unearned runs in the top of the third for Penn State. With two outs, Conlin Hughes reached on a throwing error. After a wild pitch advanced him into scoring position, Greg Guers singled to score the run. After a stolen base, Jim Haley reached on an infield single. A low throw allowed Guers to score from third base to cut the Gamecocks’ lead to one.
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A seven-run third inning gave the Gamecocks a 10-2 lead, highlighted by Destino’s second home run of the game, a grand slam. LT Tolbert led off the inning with a single, followed by a walk to Gene Cone. With one out, Marcus Mooney drove in Tolbert with an RBI double.
After a two-out walk to Dom Thompson-Williams, the Gamecocks scored their second run of the inning on an RBI single by Bride. Jones then walked to load the bases and set the stage again for Destino. Destino launched a 1-2 pitch to give the Gamecocks an eight-run lead.
Carolina added a run in the fourth. Jones’ grand slam in the sixth was part of a five-run frame. Penn State scored single runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings.
Destino went 3-for-6 with two runs and a career-high seven RBIs. Blair went 3-for-5 and Bride, Tolbert, DC Arendas, Mooney added two hits apiece. Mooney tallied two RBIs.
The seven-run bottom of the third inning, highlighted by Destino’s grand slam.
Destino drove in seven runs, the second-highest total by a Gamecock in Founders Park history, and two short of the school record of nine.
▪ Destino recorded his second career grand slam. His first was last year versus Charleston Southern.
▪ Jones belted his first career grand slam, giving him 17 RBIs on the season, and his four walks tied a single-game school record.
▪ Bride and Blair both recorded career-high hits with three apiece.
▪ South Carolina’s 18 hits were a season-high in a game with the 16 runs scored tying the season-high mark set on Wednesday versus Winthrop.
Head coach Chad Holbrook: “We got some big swings of the bat with Alex (Destino) twice. He kind of got the game off to a good start for us against a pitcher who I thought was throwing it in there pretty good. Sometimes you watch the stuff that one has to start the game, and when he started the game I thought it might be tough to score on him. He threw a great slider to Dom (Thompson-Williams) in the first inning. It looked like some good stuff, and then we did a good job of picking our pitch. We got into some hitter’s counts and some guys hit the table. We had a few good innings there in the first, third and the sixth. We had some big swings of the bat by Destino and (John) Jones. It was a good series win. There is a lot we still have to work on. I’m playing a lot of guys obviously, and we’re getting contributions from a lot of different people. We have some depth on our team this year. All in all, it was a good series win for us and we need to come with the opportunity to finish off a the weekend on a good note tomorrow.”
The South Carolina and Penn State series concludes at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Founders Park. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network, including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”
Clemson 10, James Madison 1
Clate Schmidt tossed seven scoreless innings and Chris Okey went 2-for-4 with a homer and a career-high-tying five RBIs to lead Clemson to a win over James Madison. The Tigers, who took a 2-0 series lead, improved to 4-1 on the season, while the Dukes fell to 2-4.
In the best start of his career, Schmidt (2-0) allowed just three hits — all singles — no runs and three walks with four strikeouts to earn the win. The senior righthander threw just 82 pitches — 56 for strikes — including only 45 in the first five innings. Dukes starter Colton Harlow (0-1) took the loss, as he gave up seven runs on six hits in three innings pitched.
The Tigers erupted for five runs in the second inning on four straight run-scoring singles by Chase Pinder, Eli White, Reed Rohlman and Okey. Two innings later, Okey belted a three-run home run, his second long ball of the year, down the left-field line.
The Tigers and Dukes will play the finale of the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Live video is available for free on TigerCast at ClemsonTigers.com.