As I noted yesterday, the University of South Carolina baseball program has been dramatically exceeding expectations so far during the 2023 campaign. On Thursday night in Columbia, S.C. against the No. 1 team in the nation, though, it officially started shattering those expectations.
Freshman two-way player Ethan Petry slugged a pair of home runs on opposite sides of a weather delay and drove in eight runs as the Gamecocks (28-3) obliterated top-ranked LSU 13-5 at Founders Park.
Petry hit a two-run homer in the first inning to put the Gamecocks ahead of the Tigers, and broke the game open in the fifth inning with a grand slam. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound freshman from Land O’Lakes, Florida is now tied with Vanderbilt transfer Gavin Casas for the team lead in home runs (15). He also leads the Gamecocks with 50 runs batted in (RBIs) and boasts a team-leading batting average that is pushing .450.
Petry’s eight RBIs (he had a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and scored another runner when he was hit by a pitch in the seventh frame) were the most by a South Carolina player since Adam Mathews plated eight in a game against the College of Charleston in 2011.
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The electricity in Petry’s bat rivaled that contained in the lightning bolts that lit up the sky surrounding Founders Park during an hour-long weather delay during the top of the fourth inning.
Weather has also impacted the schedule for the weekend. South Carolina and LSU were originally scheduled to play the second game of their series on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. EDT and wrap things up on Saturday at noon. Due to “forecasted all-day rain on Saturday,” however, the teams will now play a Friday doubleheader beginning at 12:00 p.m. EDT.
As I noted yesterday, in addition those two remaining games against the Tigers head coach Mark Kingston’s team has three-game series remaining at home against No. 3 Florida (April 20-22), on the road against No. 4 Vanderbilt, (April 14-16) on the road against No. 5 Arkansas (May 12-14), on the road against No. 10 Kentucky (May 5-7) and at home against No. 11 Tennessee (May 18-20).
In other words, of the remaining 25 games on South Carolina’s schedule – seventeen of them are against teams ranked in or just outside of the Top Ten, according to D1Baseball.
The good news? Whatever happens down the stretch, South Carolina has already won more games this year than it did during the entirety of the 2022 campaign – which saw the program post its first losing record since 1996.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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