COLUMBIA — The spark South Carolina seemed to be missing in its season opener finally arrived Saturday, both in the dugout and in the batter’s box.
Kyle Martin drove in two runs, Jordan Gore anchored a four-run second inning with a double, and Wil Crowe recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts as the 13th-ranked Gamecocks rebounded from a lackluster opener to beat College of Charleston 7-1 in the first game of a doubleheader at Carolina Stadium.
Martin, USC’s leading hitter last season, did not start Friday’s game due to an unspecified violation of team rules. Although he entered in the third inning, his absence from the starting lineup seemed to take some life out of a Gamecocks team which managed only four hits and suffered its first opening day loss since 1998.
Saturday was different. Martin started, walked in his first at-bat, and scored USC’s first run on a passed ball. He added an RBI single in a four-run second inning keyed by Gore, whose one-out double broke the game open by plating Elliott Caldwell and D.C. Arendas. Martin also tacked on a run-scoring single in the sixth, when the Gamecocks (1-1) added two more runs to their lead.
Meanwhile, Crowe was in total control on the mound. The sophomore went six innings, bettering his career high in strikeouts by one, and allowing one run on four hits. Junior Nathan Helvey took the loss for the Cougars (1-1) after giving up four earned runs over four innings.
The pitching matchup for Saturday’s second game pitted South Carolina’s Josh Reagan (3-0, .036 ERA in 2014) against Charleston’s Eric Bauer (6-2, 2.09).