WATCH: Widener & Destino Help USC Top PC 3-1
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — Junior right-hander Taylor Widener struck out a career-high 12 batters in a career high 7.2 innings pitched and sophomore outfielder Alex Destino hit a pair of solo home runs as third-ranked South Carolina defeated Presbyterian 3-1 on Tuesday night at Founders Park. The Gamecocks are now 37-11 on the season, while Presbyterian dropped to 24-24.
Widener improved to 3-2 on year after allowing just one run on six hits with no walks. Junior right-hander Reed Scott followed him up with 1.1 perfect innings of relief and struck out all four batters he faced to pick up his second save of the season. Junior right-hander Ethan Wortkoetter suffered the loss and fell to 0-2 on the year after giving up two runs on three hits in 5.1 innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
The Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Alex Destino led off the frame with a solo home run to right field.
Presbyterian tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning after Weston Jackson belted a two-out homer to center field.
Carolina regained the lead in the bottom half of the sixth though as Destino answered with his second home run of the night, this one to center field.
Carolina increased the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jonah Bride led off with a single up the middle then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Madison Stokes followed with a walk and Chris Cullen moved both base runners with a sacrifice bunt. Bride gave South Carolina a two-run cushion after he scored on a balk by Aaron Lesiak.
Alex Destino’s second home run of the game gave the Gamecocks a lead they would not relinquish.
Taylor Widener and Reed Scott combined for 16 strikeouts with no walks allowed.
• Taylor Widener recorded a career and season-high 12 strikeouts, besting his previous record of seven. He last had tallied seven strikeouts on April 20 at Furman.
• Alex Destino tallied his second two-home run game of his career, equaling his single-game high from earlier in the year vs. Penn State on February 27, 2016.
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“That was a hard fought game. I know Coach Pollack has been very pleased with his team. I think they are going to be in the Big South tournament for the first time in school history, and I see why. They have some physical, fast-twitch guys. They can do some things. I’m just glad we got through the game with the win. They were very difficult to score against. They were very unorthodox in the way they pitched to us. Our guys weren’t used to a lot of that. You have to give those guys credit because they pitched extremely well. It’s not the stuff that you see in the SEC, but it was very effective. On our side, [Taylor] Widener and Reed [Scott] were terrific. It may have been the best I’ve seen Taylor throw since he’s been here. I hope that bodes well for us going forward. His curveball was outstanding. I think that produced a lot of the strikeouts and kept them off balance. They were thinking about three pitches instead of two. Not only was it a really good pitch, but he threw it where he wanted it. That was the story of the night, we pitched and we played defense. We will continue to figure out things from an offensive standpoint. At this point in the year, every win is a big one and every win is a good one.”
South Carolina will be back in action this weekend as they host Texas A&M for a three-game series. First pitch is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Founders Park. It will be broadcast live on SEC Network + and can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”