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April 4, 2012

Gamecocks cage Cougars (w/ VIDEO)



VIDEO: Ray Tanner


MT. PLEASANT - The second half began just like the first, with one very large change.

South Carolina scored, and kept scoring.

Unlike a 2-1 win over VMI that opened the season, No. 11 USC popped College of Charleston for a first-inning run on Wednesday and kept adding to it. The Gamecocks pounded 13 hits in a 7-0 win, unleashing their bats in a rare appearance that they hope will carry over into a weekend series hosting Tennessee.

"We really had a good game here," coach Ray Tanner said. "Our guys pitched really well, we played pretty good defense after that miscue in the first. We played really well. One of our better games of the year."

LB Dantzler drove in two runs, Joey Pankake stroked two doubles and cracked his second home run and even light-hitting Chase Vergason drove in a run, to back up two hits in three at-bats. Adam Westmoreland (2-0) swept through the Cougars' bats and Tyler Webb wiggled out of a sixth-inning jam to preserve the shutout, USC's second of the season.

Overall, a confident game from a club that was hoping to build on confidence gained after a 13th-inning home run bailed it from a series loss at Vanderbilt last weekend. Everybody did what they could do and USC (21-8) got some clutch performances from players who needed to have them.

"I'm feeling really good," said Vergason, who came into the game batting .136 and raised his average 114 points. "I had to battle my way back and I want to keep it going."

Vergason's sacrifice fly in the sixth scored USC's second run of the game and gave the Gamecocks a healthy 4-0 lead, set up by Dantzler's two RBIs and Christian Walker's RBI single that plated Pankake.

That seemed to be enough for Westmoreland, who at one point had retired eight batters on 20 pitches, but the bottom of the frame crept up on him. Rob Harding walked to open the inning and after Marty Gantt flew out, long-relief ace Tyler Webb entered.

Brandon Murray doubled, a ball that Evan Marzilli dove for but he had the ball pop out. Still, Harding had to hold up at third when it looked like Marzilli had a chance, and that was all the opportunity the Gamecocks needed.

Webb struck out Daniel Aldrich, before getting Brandon Glazer to ground to third. Webb was nearly untouchable throughout and handed the reins to Nolan Belcher for the ninth, while USC got Pankake's homer, a solo shot, and an RBI from Evan Marzilli with the final run scoring on a wild pitch.

College of Charleston coach Monte Lee sent in his usual Saturday pitcher, Christian Powell, to try and hold the Gamecocks to a 2-0 lead until his ballclub could hit, but the gamble backfired. USC teed off on Powell for four straight hits in the sixth for the game-clinching runs, and kept adding to it against the Cougars' bullpen.

USC stranded seven but scored seven. The two-out hits and knocks with runners in scoring position were there. Westmoreland ate nearly six innings and only used 64 pitches, meaning he could potentially return during the weekend. The bullpen was magnificent.

A good team win.

"Westmoreland was really great today," Pankake said. "Six strong innings, he was really great, then Webb and Belcher."

"(Westmoreland)'s throwing pretty good," Tanner said. "He's been giving us some quality innings. He should be able to bounce back, maybe by Saturday, but by Sunday for sure."

Box score

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