Gamecock baseball 2018 Season-in-Review
July 05, 2018
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The University of South Carolina baseball team advanced to the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament in head coach Mark Kingston's first season in Columbia in 2018. The Gamecocks were 20-17 after an April loss to Presbyterian, but won each of their last five series in conference play and went a perfect 3-0 in the NCAA Greenville Regional at East Carolina. The Gamecocks fell in three games at No. 5 Arkansas, handing the Razorbacks their only NCAA Tournament loss until the College World Series championship series. South Carolina had 10 players selected in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft and 12 on the Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll.
> Carolina was ranked in each of the six major college baseball polls to end the 2018 season. The Gamecocks were 12th in both the Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA polls. Carolina was 14th in the D1Baseball.com poll, 16th in the Baseball America poll, 17th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll and 23rd in the Perfect Game poll.
> The Gamecocks pushed No. 5 Arkansas to a third game in the 2018 Fayetteville Super Regional, defeating the Razorbacks in game two, 8-5. LT Tolbert had a grand slam to highlight a five-run fifth inning for Carolina. Cody Morris earned the win in that contest, striking out four and allowing an unearned run in five innings of work. Sawyer Bridges picked up the save, pitching a career-best 3.1 innings and striking out four Razorbacks. The Gamecocks, who fell 14-4 in the third game, was Arkansas' only loss in the NCAA Tournament until the College World Series championship series against Oregon State.
> The Gamecocks ended the season with a .980 fielding percentage, good for seventh in the country and second in the SEC. The mark also ties the 2012 team for the best fielding percentage in school history. No Gamecock had more than seven errors in the season and Jonah Bride had just five errors at the hot corner. Behind the plate, Hunter Taylor threw out 22 runners trying to steal, which was the best mark in the SEC. Carolina also had 15 outfield assists, led by Carlos Cortes' seven.
> South Carolina ended the 2018 season with 79 home runs, good for 12th in the country and tied for fourth in the SEC. Three Gamecocks were in double digits in home runs, led by Carlos Cortes' 15 long balls. Jacob Olson had 12 home runs while Madison Stokes had 11 round trippers. Twelve different players had at least one home run and six players had at least seven on the year.
> Senior Justin Row led the Gamecocks with a .347 batting average this season, which also was seventh in the SEC. The La Verne, Calif., native bumped that number up to .357 in SEC play. That was fourth in the conference. Row, who had 15 multi-hit games and seven multi-RBI performances, had nine doubles, two home runs and nine RBI in SEC contests, with three of those doubles in a win at Vanderbilt on April 27.
> South Carolina went 3-0 in the Greenville Regional, defeating Ohio State (8-3), East Carolina (4-2) and UNC Wilmington (8-4) to move on to the Fayetteville Super Regional. Danny Blair was named the Greenville Regional Most Valuable Player, as his three-run home run in the seventh inning against Ohio State gave the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead. Cody Morris pitched a career-high 7.1 innings in the win over East Carolina, while Eddy Demurias earned a win against Ohio State and pitched three innings of relief in the championship game against UNC Wilmington. Blair was joined on the All-Tournament team by Morris, LT Tolbert, Justin Row and Carlos Cortes.
> South Carolina picked up its fifth straight SEC series win, taking 2-of-3 games at Texas A&M on May 17-19. It is the first time the Gamecocks have won five straight conference series since 2012. Carolina was 11-4 in its final 15 league contests, hitting .308 in those games. Justin Row hit .362 in those 15 games while Carlos Cortes had six home runs and 17 RBI. The Gamecocks swept LSU while taking two games apiece from Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Missouri and Texas A&M.
> Cody Morris finished his sophomore season with a team high nine wins and a 3.46 earned-run average, but Carolina fans will remember his last four starts, where he went 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 26.1 innings pitched. Morris earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors while striking out 10 in seven innings against Missouri (May 13). In the regular-season finale at Texas A&M (May 19), Morris had seven strikeouts, allowing an unearned run in seven innings. He pitched a career-high 7.1 innings in the NCAA Regional win at East Carolina, striking out seven and allowing just five hits. Then in the Super Regional at Arkansas (June 10), Morris allowed just four hits while striking out four in five innings of work.
> LT Tolbert, who hit .409 in his final 10 games, was named to both the All-SEC Tournament team and Greenville Regional All-Tournament team while his grand slam propelled Carolina to an 8-5 win over Arkansas in the Fayetteville Super Regional on June 10. Tolbert hit .538 (7-for-13) with a double, triple, home run, three runs scored and five RBI in Carolina's three SEC tournament games. He had career-highs of four hits and five RBI in the game against Arkansas (May 23) and tripled and scored the game-tying run against LSU (May 24) that sent the game to extra innings. In the regional, Tolbert had two hits and an RBI apiece in wins over East Carolina (June 2) and UNC Wilmington (June 4).
> Head Coach Mark Kingston ended his first year after guiding the Gamecocks to a Super Regional appearance and a 17-13 mark in SEC play. Kingston also earned his 300th career win on May 4 in a win over Ole Miss. Kingston ends 2018 with a 310-206-1 career record after nine seasons as a head coach.