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SPORTS LIBRARY, South Carolina, USC, baseball

COLUMBIA -- When players are seeing the ball at the plate, it’s like hitting a basketball. If that’s the case, then South Carolina’s lineup looks like a Sweet 16 team more than a baseball squad.

The Gamecocks (11-5) finished a doubleheader sweep of Princeton Saturday thanks to an offensive explosion totaling 23 runs on 28 hits for their first series sweep in almost a year.

“As a whole lineup when you’re top four guys are getting on base and you’re seeing the ball well and everybody in the top four is hitting well,” TJ Hopkins said, “it makes it easy for the back half of the lineup to hit.”

Of the 23 runs, nine were either scored or driven in by Hopkins, who finished the weekend hitting 5-for-9 with four extra base hits: two doubles, a triple and a home run.

He walked five times as well and had an on-base percentage of .714 over the last three games.

“For anybody if you’re seeing the ball well and you have a lot of confidence going up to the plate you’re going to hit the ball better, you’re going to see the ball better and you’re just going to do everything better. That’s what I’m doing right now.”

After coming into the weekend hitting .280 and slugging .420, he’s now second on the team among players with at least 40 at-bats hitting .322 and slugging .559.

He leads the team with six doubles and is tied for the team lead with 14 walks.

“It’s pretty clear when TJ’s mindset is right in working gap to gap and through the middle of the field that’s when he’s at his best,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “When he gets into pull mode that’s when he starts to get himself in trouble and starts to cheat his swing a little early and he’s susceptible to off-speed stuff.”


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