Starting pitching is starting to look like a strength for South Carolina as Carmen Mlodzinski and Brett Kerry both looked sharp in their second spring outings Saturday.
Mlodzinski allowed just two hits and struck out three in three scoreless innings, while Kerry gave up two unearned runs but allowed just two hits with four strikeouts.
Mlodzinski gave up one hit in the first but got three ground-ball outs to get out of the inning. He got some help on a spectacular diving stop by second baseman Braylen Wimmer.
He gave up an infield hit on a slow-roller to third to start the second but got the next two batters on a strikeout and a popup. After walking Collin Burgess, he got a groundout to second to strand runners at second and third.
In the third, he struck out two and got a weak ground ball to first to finish off a scoreless outing. Mlodzinski has given up just one run and three hits with seven strikeouts in his first six innings so far.
Kerry started strong, striking out Noah Myers looking in the first. He had to pitch around a throwing error by Wimmer at short and then walked Noah Campbell with two out. Both runners scored on a line drive by George Callil that got past a diving Myers in center field.
He retired the side in order in the second, striking out Jax Cash on a nasty slider to start the inning and ending it with a weak ground ball to second.
In the third, he gave up a leadoff single to Wimmer before striking out Andrew Eyster looking. He finished his outing by striking out Burgess. In six innings this spring, Kerry has allowed no earned runs and just three hits with six strikeouts.
The Gamecocks’ most impressive pitcher Saturday was reliever Danny Lloyd, who struck out five of the six batters in faced. Lloyd, in a battle with Graham Lawson for the closer’s role, struck out Cash with a high fastball to end the fourth and then got Josiah Sightler on the same pitch to open the fifth. Reaching 93 on his fastball, he struck out the side in the fifth.
Lawson, who is battling back from Tommy John surgery, followed Lloyd but struggled in his one inning. He struck out Jeff Heinrich on a 94 mph fastball to start the inning, but walked Anthony Amicangelo and gave up a two-out, two run home run to Brady Allen. Lawson walked two in the inning.
Parker Coyne finished the game on the mound, retiring the side with two strikeouts in the sixth.
Offensively, the Gamecocks had just six hits in the five-and-a-half inning game. But two of them were big blows. Brennan Milone hit a solo home run off left-hander R.J. Dantin, a laser shot over the left-center field wall with an exit velocity of 106. Allen’s two-run homer off Lawson cleared the right-center field wall and landed in the visitor’s bullpen.
Wimmer, a freshman infielder battling for playing time, also had a good game with two hits and three stolen bases.