Georgia can't keep up with THE Jones
Needing to play well to solidify their spot in the postseason, the Gamecocks wasted no time getting up on the Bulldogs. Travis Jones began his stellar night with a single. James Darnell followed with a double to score Jones, and the rout was on. Darnell also came around to score, giving the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead after one inning.
In the second inning, Jones hit the first of his two home runs on the day. With Steven Reinhold and Reese Havens on base, Jones hit a ball to right center. It looked like the ball would drop, but it kept carrying and just cleared the wall.
Following Jones' homer, the Gamecocks went into a bit of a drought. Eleven straight batters went down before a sixth inning rally. Trent Kline and Harley Lail singled, and Reinhold was hit by a pitch. Havens scored Kline on a sac fly, and then Jones came to the plate. Jones smacked the first pitch into deep center, and this time there was no doubt it was a goner. The ball cleared the softball batting facility. "I do it in [batting practice] occasionally, but I've never hit one in a game that far," Jones said.
What little doubt remained was eliminated in the eighth inning, when Carolina sent all 9 men to the plate and scored four more runs.
Mike Cisco held Georgia in check the entire night. The Bulldogs scored a run in the sixth inning, and then added a two run homer in the seventh to complete their scoring. Cisco allowed seven hits and three runs to go with 5 strikeouts. "It feels good to get this first win and keep the momentum rolling for the rest of the weekend," Cisco said. "Every time I go out I try to do the best I can and improve."
"Cisco gave us a tremendous outing," said Ray Tanner.
The win clinched a berth in the SEC Tournament for Carolina. "It's a relief," said Tanner. "I know that mathematically we were in great position coming into this weekend, but stranger things have happened. I feel pretty good that we are at least going to the tournament now, and hopefully we can continue to play well and make a statement that we deserve to play here [in the regionals]."
Jones echoed Tanner's comments, saying, "We love playing at the Sarge. It's a great atmosphere, and we've got great fans."
The two teams face off again Friday night at 7:00, and at 4:00 Saturday in the season finale.
Player of the Game: Travis Jones Jones had the best offensive game for a Gamecock in several years, and deserves a Notes section of his own.
- His four runs scored were a season high for a Gamecock.
- His six RBIs were the most for a Gamecock since Michael Campbell had six against Wofford on March 23, 2004. The last player to have six RBIs against SEC competition was Landon Powell, who had six against the same Georgia Bulldogs exactly four years ago.
- Jones has hit 14 of his 18 homers in-conference, and is tied for the league lead in SEC play.
- Jones has now had four multi home run games this season.
Jones finished the game 3-4 with a walk, 6 RBIs, and 4 runs scored. On top of that, he also made the most impressive defensive play of the game in the eighth inning. He dove to his left to stop a hard-hit groundball, and got up and made the throw to first. "I'm thinking, ‘He might glove it, but he can't make the play,'" said Tanner. "Good players can dive and catch the ball, but can't get up, and great ones can get up. He's smiling all the time, so he makes me laugh. He'll hit a ball once in awhile where I just shake my head when he comes back in. He's been a very special player for us this year."
Key Moment: It is hard to pick a key moment in such a lopsided game. At 7:02, Mike Cisco threw the first pitch, a strike. From that point on the game was never in doubt.
Notes: - The first pitch was thrown out by Carolina Historian and SID Emeritus Tom Price. He threw a slider on the outside that bounced just in front of the plate.
- The eight innings pitched by Mike Cisco were the most innings pitched by a Gamecock this year.
- With Miss. State's 4-3 loss to Alabama tonight, USC takes sole possession of third place in the SEC.
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