Arik Hempy Answers the Call in Must-Win Game
In the Yardcocks half of the second inning, Justin Smoak got on base thanks to a throwing error by Alabama 3B Brandon May. Smoak advanced to second on a wild pitch and then scored on a double down the left field line by Trent Kline.
With Arik Hempy in cruise control, the Alabama Crimson Tide wasn't able to string any hits together until the fourth inning. Inching one run across home plate to tie the score, the Tide was done for the afternoon. Hempy threw 93 pitches over 7 and a third solid innings while striking out seven.
"Hempy was very good today," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said, "Quigley, on the other hand, I thought pitched his best game of the season. He had good command of all of his pitches. He did leave a few balls up, but that was his best today."
Andrew Crisp homered to left field, his fifth, to lead off the sixth inning. It was followed up by a double off the bat of Justin Smoak. A Phil Disher single and a Trent Kline fielder's choice brought home Justin Smoak to extend the lead to 3 – 1.
Carolina's final run came on a James Darnell home run to left center field, tieing him with Smoak for the team lead in long balls (15).
After his seventh strike out, Arik Hempy was lifted for Jeff Jeffords who got the last five outs without giving up a hit.
The Gamecocks now sit at 33-12, 11-9 in the SEC, 10-8 on the road. Tomorrow brings the rubber game of the series at 3pm EST. Austin Hyatt (4-1, 1.80 ERA) will start for the Tide while the Gamecocks are yet to announce. With Blake Cooper throwing 73 pitches in four innings against Clemson earlier in the week, it's likely the resurgent Mike Cisco will take the hill.
Key Moment of the Game – Arik Hempy buckles down after Alabama scores their lone run in the fourth. Throwing four more innings after the run, Hempy handcuffed Alabama the rest of the evening.
Player of the Game – Arik Hempy. Hands down, his watertight performance came at the perfect time.
Other Stats Worth Mentioning – Trent Kline went 2-for-3 with two runs batted in. Both of his RBI drove in Justin Smoak, who was 2-for-4 while reaching base three times. Two solo home runs were the only hits out of Carolina's top three in the batting order. An awful 2-for-14 effort on the afternoon, Travis Jones, Andrew Crisp and James Darnell need to pick it up tomorrow.
Though he took the loss, Alabama's Miers Quigley was impressive. He pitched eight innings, allowed only three earned runs and struck out nine – another reason Arik Hempy prevails as Gamecock Anthem's Player of the Game.
Not taking anything away from a valiant effort by Quigley, almost half of his season high nine strikeouts were against Reese Havens who was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.
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