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South Carolina baseball overcomes long weather delay to post win over Belmont

Eli Jones was fantastic Friday night. His two-seam fastball whipped through the strike zone like a feather in the wind.

The real shame was that Jones only pitched three innings in South Carolina’s 8-1 win over Belmont. Three marvelous innings. No runs. No hits. No walks. Three strikeouts. His lone mistake was clunking a Belmont batter, and even that caused little damage.

But his night ended early, his outing Mother Nature’s victim after lightning rolled into Columbia around 4:51 p.m. Heavy rain followed, forcing a weather delay with South Carolina ahead 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning. The tarp was rolled out and fans gathered under the awning, waiting for word on when the game would resume.

Meanwhile, South Carolina (6-0) retreated to its clubhouse and several players played Call of Duty to pass the time. The delay lasted 2 hours, 24 minutes, which ended Jones’ night.

When the Gamecocks and Bruins resumed, freshman Tyler Pitzer, one of the arms responsible for South Carolina’s combined no-hitter last Sunday, took the reins.

Jones likely won’t pitch again until next Friday, when Clemson visits Founders Park at 7 p.m.

Pitzer went three innings, striking out five (including striking out the side in the fifth) while walking four. He allowed four hits and an earned run. But, by the time Pitzer took the mound for the third time in his college career, the Gamecocks already led by a half dozen.

Parker Noland started the scoring with his first home run of the season, a two-run, 386-foot blast to right field in the first.

Then Gavin Casas helped provide some cushion. The Gamecocks senior first baseman recorded 3 RBI on Friday — a two-run double in the first inning and a RBI-single in the third, just six minutes after the delay ended.

Mother Nature threw a wrench into Jones’ wonderful outing, but it did not derail South Carolina. The Gamecocks are now 6-0 for the second straight season and will finish the weekend with two more games against Belmont — Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.