Gamecocks, Matthews crush Cougars

Every South Carolina position starter recorded a hit, and Adam Matthews had a career game as the Gamecocks defeated College of Charleston 24-4 at Carolina Stadium Tuesday night. Matthews hit two home runs and drove in a career high eight RBIs while Colby Holmes (2-0) pitched 6 innings and gave up three earned runs to pick up the win.

Despite taking two of three games over Georgia in their SEC-opening series this weekend, South Carolina's bats weren't exactly hot. With a three-game series with the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators on the horizon, it's safe to say those bats needed to find a way to wake up this week.

And did they ever.

South Carolina put up a Carolina Stadium record 24 runs on 19 hits as the scoring started early and never seemed to stop.

"Sometimes in this game you surprised by the outcome. Tonight was one of those nights. Coach (Monte) Lee and College of Charleston have a very good team," head coach Ray Tanner said. "We swung the bats well early, Colby gave us a quality start and we were able to jump out on them a little bit. All in all it was a great win for us and really a quality start for Colby Holmes."

While every starting position player got a hit, the junior right fielder Matthews had a night some only dream of. Matthews entered the day with no home runs and just three RBIs, but went 3-for-6 with two homers and eight RBIs while also scoring three times. He came just one RBI shy of the school single game record.

"I enjoyed myself out there today," Matthews said. "I'm seeing the ball really well right now, other than the one at-bat where I struck out."

Matthews' performance overshadowed several other productive days at the plate.

Adrian Morales went 3-for-3 with four runs scored. Jackie Bradley, Jr. broke out of an 0-for-21 slump with a three-run homer and a 2-for-4 night. Brady Thomas also added a homer and Peter Money had two hits.

"I'm happy for Jackie. He's been frustrated a little bit here lately and he's been down on himself a little bit," Tanner said. "I talked to him before the game and we were talking about his future a little bit. I told Jackie we've probably only got three months left together so let's have some fun. Jackie told me today that he was going to have some fun, and it's great to see him get some hits today and be out there smiling again."

The hit barrage also overshadowed a quality start from the sophomore Holmes, who didn't allow a run in his first five innings of work. Holmes finished with three earned runs and five hits in six inning. He also struck out six and walked two. The second straight positive performance could put Holmes in the running for a possible weekend start.

"I think he's in the conversation," Tanner said. "He pitched well tonight against a quality team. College of Charleston is one of the best hitting lineups we've faced to this point and we've played some good teams. ... I would like to see him finish better but he's definitely in the conversation."

It was a forgettable night for former South Carolina assistant and current College of Charleston head coach Monte Lee.

The Cougars used eight pitchers in the game, none of which pitched more than two innings, and were down from the onset with no chance to chip away at a big South Carolina lead.

"They have a really good pitching staff and I've grown up facing a lot of those guys," Matthews said. "They've got a really good team and they'll bounce back from this. I expect that they'll have a good season."

Robert Jeroszko (2-2) started the game, but after pitching a perfect first inning, lasted just 1.2 innings when he surrendered six earned runs in what was eventually a seven-run Carolina second inning.

The Gamecocks struck for eight more runs in the third to open up a 15-0 lead. The Cougars got on the board with a solo home run in the sixth but Carolina answered with two more in the bottom half of the inning.

College of Charleston added two runs in the seventh but Carolina again answered with two more in the bottom half. After a one-run eighth for Charleston, Carolina, playing mostly reserves, played five more runs in the bottom of the eighth to complete the scoring for both sides.

"This is definitely a game that we would like to build on," Bradley, Jr. says. "We want to take these at-bats and these approaches to the next game. We're swinging the bats better and the pitching has been there all year. If we keep swinging like that we'll be tough to beat."

Patrick Sullivan pitched the final three innings for Carolina and gave up just a single unearned run and a hit. He received a save (1) for three quality innings of work. With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 15-4 on the season while College of Charleston drops to 15-7.

South Carolina returns to action Wednesday night against Rhode Island with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. Adam Westmoreland will be on the mound for the Gamecocks.

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