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May 7, 2014

Gamecocks pummel Wofford, 15-1



If there ever were a way to erase the sting of their series loss last weekend at Georgia, the Gamecocks found it Wednesday night in a 15-1 pummeling of Wofford at Carolina Stadium.

Led by junior catcher Grayson Greiner, who went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run, USC pounded out 11 hits off seven Wofford pitchers to send the Terriers back to Spartanburg, South Carolina, empty-handed.

No. 17 South Carolina - still working to put itself in position for a national seed and home field advantage in the NCAA Tournament until the College World Series - moved to 36-13 on the season with the win, while Wofford fell to 25-25.

"It was good to see our team respond after a tough weekend at Georgia, and come out and put up 15 runs, and do a lot of the little things right," said sophomore Max Schrock, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in his first game back from a back injury that had sidelined him since April 16.

The Gamecocks logged four extra-base hits, including a pair of solo home runs from Greiner and junior third baseman Joey Pankake. But plenty of the damage dealt to Wofford was self-inflicted. The Terriers committed three errors, walked 12 USC batters and hit three more.

Six of USC's 15 runs came solely from Wofford pitchers walking or hitting Gamecock batters with the bases loaded.

That was just fine by the Gamecocks, whose patience at the plate led to big innings in the second, sixth and seventh.

"What we harp on is swinging at our pitches instead of the pitchers' pitches," Greiner said. "We'll take our walks any time we can get them. The main thing is to try to get to first base.

"Once someone gets to first base, we can try to make some things happen. If we go up there and are swinging at balls and getting ourselves out, that doesn't help the team. We just try to get our pitch to hit. If they throw us four balls, we'll take first base."

USC head coach Chad Holbrook, who watched his patchwork lineup work hitter's counts all night long, was ecstatic with the Gamecocks' composure at the plate.

"We're a better offensive team when we understand what the value of a walk is," Holbrook said. "And we can put together some three, four-run innings if we can be disciplined at the plate.

"And tonight, we were. Wofford helped us out a little bit there obviously late, but early in the game, we had some discipline. We were looking at the ball very good. We were competing every pitch.

"When we're doing that, we're more formidable offensively. We can put some more runs on the board."

USC also got a solid night on the mound from its pitchers. Reed Scott, Curt Britt (3-0), Vince Fiori, Taylor Widener and Matthew Vogel combined to allow just one run on five hits and three walks.

And the Terriers managed just one baserunner - a walk issued by Fiori in the seventh - through the final three innings.

"We wanted to get a number of guys in the game from a pitching standpoint today, and it was good to see it," Holbrook said. "Reed and Curt and Vince, Taylor and Matt. It was a clean, well-pitched game, and we played really good defense behind them."

The Gamecocks struck first with a five-run outburst in the second inning. Greiner led off the frame with a solo shot into the left field bleachers. Pankake followed with a walk, and the bases were loaded when Tanner English and DC Arendas notched back-to-back bunt singles.

Freshman Gene Cone coaxed a bases-loaded walk to push the lead to 2-0, then Patrick Harrington drove in a third run with a sac fly into center field. Marcus Mooney drove in Arendas with a sac fly to left field before Schrock drove in the fifth and final run of the frame with an RBI double into right-center field.

"That second inning was a beautiful inning for us," Holbrook said. "We did a lot of neat things, getting the bunts down and putting some pressure."

"The small ball played well for us in the second inning there," Holbrook said.

Pankake, who went 1-for-2 with three runs scored and two walks, extended the lead to 6-0 with a solo homer over the left field wall in the third. But Wofford shaved the lead to 6-1 in the top of the sixth when Seth Neely took a Curt Britt pitch into the left field bullpen.

The Gamecocks responded with six runs in the bottom of the frame, pushing the game well out of reach. Mooney got it started in the bottom of the sixth, scoring from third on a wild pitch.

Four batters later, Arendas walked with the bases loaded. Then Cone was walked and Harrington was hit by a pitch, pushing the lead to 10-1. Mooney, batting for the second time in the inning, was then hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Schrock followed with a bases-loaded, RBI single up the middle to push the scored to 12-1.

USC added three more runs in the bottom of the seventh when Arendas drew a bases-loaded walk, Gore scored from third on a double-play ball and Harrington belted an RBI single into center field.

For Greiner, it was almost therapeutic to see the offense come out of its shell against the Terriers.

"Offensively, we've been scuffling a little bit," Greiner said. "We've got some guys hurt, got some guys sick. Hopefully we can slowly but surely start to get some of those key guys back in there.

"We had a lot of hits tonight. I'm not sure how many we had, but we put up 15 runs against a good Wofford team. It was a just a good confidence booster, especially after this past weekend where we felt like we gave a series away."

Holbrook hopes USC's success at the plate with carry over to its upcoming weekend series against Missouri at Carolina Stadium.

"It was a good win for us," Holbrook said. "Hopefully it will give us a little momentum going into the weekend.

"Obviously it's a big conference weekend here - our last SEC series at home - and it's extremely important to our team. Hopefully, we get a good workout in tomorrow and get ready for Missouri on Friday."


NEXT UP: The Gamecocks play host to Missouri in a three-game series this weekend. The 7 p.m. game Friday will be televised on SportSouth, while the 3:15 p.m. game Saturday will be on FSN. The 1:30 p.m. game Sunday will not be televised. USC's gameday shuttle location for the series will be moved from the Coliseum lot to Capital City Baseball Stadium because of USC commencement traffic.

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