“Something special about Opening Day”: Mark Kingston era begins Friday

[gtxvideo vid=’8giEsN21′ thumb=’http://player.gtxcel.com/thumbs/8giEsN21.jpg’ vtitle=’Gamecocks open season with VMI Friday’]

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina baseball team begins its 126th season and the first under new head coach Mark Kingston this weekend as the Gamecocks welcome VMI to Founders Park. Opening Day is Friday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. The two teams will play on Saturday, Feb. 17 at noon and conclude the series on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. Friday’s game will be streamed on SEC Network Plus with Burch Antley and Kip Bouknight on the call. All three games will be broadcast on The Game 107.5 FM with Derek Scott, Drew Meyer and Tommy Moody on the call. The three-game series opens a 10-game homestand for the Gamecocks. South Carolina will play 18 of its first 21 games at Founders Park.

Head Coach Mark Kingston will go with junior righthander Adam Hill, sophomore righthander Cody Morris and junior righthander Ridge Chapman for the opening weekend rotation.

Hill will get the ball on Opening Day after pitching 77 innings last season with 87 strikeouts and a 3.04 earned-run average. Hill held opponents to a .205 batting average in 14 starts. He struck out 11 batters in a win over Vanderbilt and had nine strikeouts in six innings of work in a win over Alabama. Hill pitched in the Cape Cod League this past summer and is high on the top prospect lists for the 2018 MLB Draft.

Morris made 10 starts for the Gamecocks in 2017, going 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA and 47 strikeouts compared to just eight walks. Morris had eight strikeouts in a win at The Citadel and had eight punchouts in just four innings of work against Wofford. Opponents hit .240 off Morris last year and the righthander allowed just 10 extra-base hits in 2017.

Chapman will make his first appearance in a Gamecock uniform in the Sunday start. The Taylors, S.C., native pitched two seasons at Spartanburg Methodist College, striking out 98 batters and picking up five wins with a 2.84 ERA his sophomore season. Chapman prepped at Wade Hampton High School and was a two-time all-region selection. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 39th round of the 2017 MLB Draft.

USC Athletics contributed to the writing of this article.

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