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March 8, 2013
One of the areas that South Carolina has excelled in so far is pitching, especially in the strikeout-to-walk category. On Friday in the Gamecocks' 2-0 win over Rider, USC again was stellar in that category as four pitchers -- Evan Beal, Forrest Koumas, Vince Fiori and Tyler Webb -- struck out 10 batters while walking only three in a one-hit shutout.
For the season, USC has 115 strikeouts to only 29 walks
Beal, who earned his first win of the season, was masterful on Friday, recoding a career-high six strikeouts. His previous high was five on March 3, 2012, against Clemson. At one point on Friday, Beal had retired 17 of 18 and 14 in a row prior to issuing back-to-back walks to open the seventh inning and giving way to Koumas.
"Evan is a talented pitcher," coach Chad Holbrook said. "When he's on, he's really tough. That was as good as I've seen Evan Beal throw here.
"As you all know, he has great stuff, but sometimes he can be his own worst enemy. Tonight he looked like a polished pitcher. He was phenomenal on short notice. The key with Evan is for him to trust his stuff and let his defense play behind him. He loves to strike guys out, But he's more efficient when he throws strikes, stays ahead in the count and lets his defense work behind him. That's called trusting your stuff, and maybe that's a hurdle he's gotten over."
Beal said he had no idea he'd go as long as he did on the short notice. He only learned on Thursday that he'd be the starter with ace Jordan Montgomery on ice for the next two weeks, at least.
"I just wanted to get in and throw strike one, get ahead, stay ahead," Beal said. "It's a different world starting, from coming out of the pen. This is the first time since high school I've gone that deep into the game and that I've done that well. I didn't know I'd throw that long; I thought I'd go three innings maybe, but I got a couple of innings where I could cruise, and that was very encouraging to me.
"It's no secret Jordan is the heart and soul and ace of our pitching staff, a guy that can go out and shut down a lineup on a given day. Jordan's greatly missed, and we can't wait to have him back."
In addition to Beal, Webb added to the Gamecocks' strikeout total with four in 2 1-3 innings.
ISKENDERIAN IMPRESSES: One of the players that Holbrook has been wanting to get more at-bats is freshman George Iskenderian, and hitting out of the designated hitter position and batting in the No. 8 spot, Iskenderian went 1-for-3 and battled at the plate against Rider pitcher Tyler Smith, who threw a complete game and only allowed seven hits and one earned run.
COSTEN STRUGGLING:TJ Costen's struggles at the plate continued on Friday. Only hitting .167 coming into the Rider series, he lowered his average with an 0-for-3 night that included three strikeouts. After the game, Holbrook hinted there could be a change at the position, but said it's tough right now since Costen has switched to center field to take the place of the injured Tanner English, which gave Connor Bright the start in right field. Bright also went 0-for-3.
MAKING NEW FRIENDS: Just like the previous two-game series against Ball State, this weekend's series with Rider marks the first time the two schools have met in baseball. Of note: Rider, located in Lawrenceville, N.J., was ranked in the 2013 Princeton Review as No. 15 for "Least Beautiful Campus" and No. 17 in "Least Happy Students."
DANTZLER DANGEROUS: LB Dantzler extended his team-high hitting streak to 10 games with a single to right field in the fourth inning. Dantzler also came into the game first in the SEC in slugging percentage (.846) and second in on-base percentage (.600).
AROUND THE SEC
South Carolina 2, Rider 0
Kentucky 2, Michigan State 1
Louisville 4, Alabama 3
Arkansas 3, San Diego State 3
Tennessee 16, Alcorn State 0
Auburn 9, Brown 4
Missouri 6, San Francisco 2
Indiana 4, Florida 1
Georgia 12, Liberty 0
Mississippi State 4, Central Arkansas 2
Ole Miss 10, Lipscomb 1
LSU 9, Washington 4
Vanderbilt 4, Oregon 1
Texas A&M 2, Cal-State Fullerton 0
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