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May 9, 2012

Marzilli lances Paladins again

VIDEO: Joel Seddon

from GamecockCentral.com
on Vimeo.

Evan Marzilli likes Furman.

South Carolina's junior center fielder smacked a three-run home run and had four RBIs to lead the No. 4 Gamecocks over Furman 7-0 on Wednesday, the second time in two games against the Paladins that he's hit a three-run shot. Those are also the only two homers that Marzilli has hit all year.

"That's kind of weird," Marzilli said. "Just one of those things. They're a good team. I guess I've just had two good games against them. Nothing more than that."

The offense helped freshman Joel Seddon earn his first decision since March 7 and improve him to 2-0 on the season, while boosting his confidence as the postseason beckons. An afterthought who couldn't buy an inning of work throughout April, Seddon has sparkled with nine strong innings over two starts, including five two-hit, four-strikeout frames on Wednesday.

"I'm feeling really confident," the freshman said. "I thought tonight, I did a little better than my last outing last Wednesday. I definitely thought there was some improvement throwing strikes, and I got my changeup over more. So, yeah, I'm feeling good."

The two led a cruiser of a win for the Gamecocks (37-12), who are peaking at the right time as the postseason nears. USC won for the 19th time in 24 games and continues to raise its interest to the nation - earlier in the week, the Gamecocks were considered consensus top-eight seed predictions by three major baseball publications.

Still, coach Ray Tanner is taking nothing for granted. USC has seven games left to play, six in the SEC and one against USC Upstate, a team that is considered a heavy possibility to win its conference and make it to the NCAA Regionals. The Gamecocks aren't assured of anything.

"All that regional host, national seed stuff is just speculation at this point," Tanner said. "You hope you can, so there's no reason to talk about it."

USC is playing well, though, even after waiting nearly an hour due to a lengthy rainstorm. After fearing that the game would be canceled - and leave scarce little time for a potential makeup game - the Gamecocks and Paladins finally got underway.

And made it routine for how USC has been playing lately.

Dante Rosenberg mimicked his co-battery mate Grayson Greiner from last weekend by throwing out the first baserunner that attempted to steal, short-circuiting a one-on, two-out rally in Furman's first inning. Then LB Dantzler rifled an RBI single to score Marzilli in the bottom of the frame and USC led 1-0.

That was it, Seddon never getting into serious trouble as he lasted through five innings so he could get the win. Marzilli came up in the bottom of the fifth, watched Rosenberg and Joey Pankake each get on base with two outs, then smashed a 1-2 fastball well out to right.

It was cake from there, Tanner able to get some of his other pitchers some work and Furman never threatening. Marzilli added an RBI single for the game's last run, after Dantzler and Kyle Martin each drove in runs in the seventh.

The game ended with little-used Logan Munson striking out Chris Ohmstede on three pitches and Seddon improving to 2-0. The Gamecocks are starting to find out just what their best pitching rotations are, and their offense has gotten into a groove.

"My last Furman outing wasn't the greatest," said Seddon, referring to the game on March 20 where he was ripped for two runs without recording an out. "I thought I did a little better this time. After the first inning, I thought I was feeling really good with all my pitches. Definitely a better outing than last time."

"The fact that he's been out there and gotten more experience, that' s a big deal for us,"
Tanner said. "It's been nice to get him a little more experience. He gave us five quality innings. We need him to be a guy in the future, and you need some experience to be that way."

Box score

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