Thomas pitched five strong innings to earn his first career victory in the Gamecocks' 8-2 win over the Blazers.
"These type of outings, you could almost see them coming," Case said. "He's thrown the ball so good at times that I haven't felt his numbers, ERA-wise, have matched the way he's thrown. He's been in some very tough games against some very tough opponents, and he's held his own. I think as time goes along, these type of outings from Malcolm you'll see a lot.
"I thought he deserved to have this opportunity and, boy, he took advantage of it."
Thomas (1-3) had never gone longer than three innings in any of his previous 13 appearances and numerous times didn't make it to the end of them, but against the Blazers he had command of his pitches, especially his two-seamer. He gave up two runs on four hits, struck out three and walked one. He dropped his ERA under 10 for just the second time this season — a season-best 8.70. One of the runs was a homer in the fourth that Case took the blame for calling.
"It's almost important to get that first win in," Thomas said. "Early in the year, I fell behind three games, but I tried to stay positive and every time I go out try to do my best.
"The biggest thing I did tonight was I had control over all my pitches. I tried to move forward from that and learn from it. I'm excited that I finished off an inning this time and didn't have coach Case come out and get me. It was good to stay strong and finish."
The Gamecocks (28-16) gave Thomas plenty of support early, jumping on UAB's regular Sunday starter Kyle Roberson for five runs in the first two innings. Roberson drew the start because the Blazers (26-21) were rained out Sunday with Memphis.
They batted around in the first. Todd Cunningham got it started with the Gamecocks' first leadoff homer since 2004, drilling a ball that kept drifting left before clearing the fence at the 330 sign. Sam Eberle and Jake Sharrock also drove in runs in the inning.
JSU loaded the bases in the second on an infield single by Cunningham and two walks. Daniel Adamson's sacrifice fly made it 4-0 and Eberle followed with his second RBI single in as many innings. Jay Davis singled home a run in the sixth, while Cunningham and Kyle Bluestein drove home runs in the seventh.
The Gamecocks collected 13 hits in the game. Cunningham went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, one game after losing his 18-game hitting streak, while Jake Sharrock, Bluestein, Heath Wall and Eberle had two hits apiece.
"I guess it's kind of karma catching back up," Cunningham said. "I've hit a lot of balls right at people and finally got some skippers to fall for me. It's a good night when that's happening."
The teams play again tonight in Birmingham. Kevin Elwell will start for the Gamecocks and Case said the game will be the junior right-hander's for four or five innings.
"We're not going to do what we've been doing with him," Case said. "That's two or three innings. It's going to be his game."
Today: JSU at UAB