HOOVER, Ala. — James Hicks and Cade Austin combined on a four-hitter, and Braylen Wimmer, Talmadge LeCroy and Andrew Tippett each had two hits to lead No. 6 seed South Carolina to a 9-0 win over No. 11 seed Georgia in the win-or-go-home opening game of the SEC Baseball Tournament on Tuesday at the Hoover Met.
Hicks (5-2) struck out six and walked two in 6 2/3 innings for the Gamecocks (33-23), who will face the winner of Tuesday’s nightcap between No. 3 seed Arkansas and No. 14 seed Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Austin struck out two in 1 1/3 innings of relief. Read more: How to watch the 2023 SEC Baseball Tournament?
Georgia (30-26) was held to just four hits and stranded 10 runners.
South Carolina got on the board in the bottom of the second inning. Ethan Petry and LeCroy led off with back-to-back singles. After Gavin Casas hit into a fielder’s choice for the first out, Tippett singled to left, loading the bases. Dylan Brewer struck out swinging for the second out, but Evan Stone lined a two-run single to left to give the Gamecocks a 2-0 lead.
LeCroy got another South Carolina rally started when he led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. That triggered an inning in which Georgia would make two more pitching changes to no avail, as the Bulldog hurlers surrendered up RBI singles to Brewer and Michael Braswell before walking in a third run, extending the Gamecocks’ advantage to 5-0.
Meanwhile, as Georgia was using four pitchers to get through the first four innings, Hicks continued to cruise. He gave up just three hits through the first six shutout innings, walking just one and striking out five.
But then Hicks ran into trouble in the top of the seventh. After getting two more easy outs to start the inning, Hicks’ day was done after he walked Georgia’s Sebastian Murillo on four pitches, gave up a hard-hit double into the left-field corner by Mason LaPlante, and then hit Josh Stinson with the very next pitch, loading the bases and bringing Cade Austin on in relief.
Austin promptly struck out Ben Anderson looking on a 2-2 pitch to get the Gamecocks out of the jam.
When Tippett ripped a bases-loaded triple to the gap in right-centerfield in the bottom of the seventh, producing three more insurance runs, the game essentially was over.
For Hicks, who earned the win, the day literally was a dream come true.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed of pretty much all my life and something I’ve been working towards.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity, and I just wanted to leave it all out there, didn’t want to hold anything back. So I”m pretty happy with how it went.”
The Gamecocks will look to keep their season alive on Wednesday when they face the No. 3 LSU. The this game is live on SEC Network, starting at 10:30 a.m.