Gamecocks down Dawgs
ATHENS, Ga. - Tied at 2 and scuffling with just three hits for the second game in a row going into the seventh, No. 9 South Carolina got two quick outs and appeared headed for another disappointing inning and another wasted effort from beleaguered starter Jack Wynkoop>
Walks to Grayson Greiner and Brison Celek put two aboard, however, allowing Tanner English, hitting in the No. 6 hole for the first time all year, to sting an RBI single to left field to put the Gamecocks ahead and Pat Harrington followed with an RBI single of his own to spark USC to a 5-2 win over Georgia on Saturday afternoon at Foley Field and even the SEC series at a game apiece>
"(The seventh) was a big inning for us," said USC coach Chad Holbrook, whose team improved to 35-12, 13-10. "Two outs, nobody on, it didn't look good.
"They walked Greiner there, they walked Celek and we found a way to get some big swings, Tanner and Patrick>
"It was a big day for us. It was a big win. You can look at our roster and yeah, we're a little depleted, but to get a win on the road and kind of keep our head above water is a testament to our team and our team's toughness. I'm proud of them today."
Wynkoop (W, 6-3) earned his first win since March 28, a span of five starts in which he had two losses and three no-decisions. Saturday in Athens, Wynkoop allowed two runs through six innings and scattered five hits while striking out three and walking one>
"I tried to mix my pitches and keep the ball down," Wynkoop said. "The offense came up huge today and hit some balls hard."
"We had a lot of good at-bats today. Guys were just battling at the plate."
"I feel pretty good about what I'm doing right now. I feel like there's a lot of areas I need to improve in as well, but I'm happy with my consistency so far."
On a sunny, cloudless day in front of a packed crowd of 3,256, the Bulldogs (22-23-1, 8-14-1) got on the board in the first inning with a suicide squeeze to take a quick 1-0 lead>
USC answered in the third when Joey Pankake singled to right center and Grayson Greiner crushed his second home run of the weekend into the parking lot behind the left field wall with two outs off Georgia starter Robert Tyler, who was hitting 97, 98 and 99 on the radar gun with his fastball, to give USC a 2-1 lead>
It was Greiner's team-leading seventh home run of the year and pushed his team-leading RBI total to 45>
"That guy has a big-league arm," said Greiner, who went 1-for-2 with three walks. "We saw him in the first inning flashing 98, 99, so he threw me a first-pitch curveball down and I figured fastball is coming>
"I tried to get my foot down and get the head out and he left me one up in the zone I could get the barrel to and it got out of here pretty quick."
Georgia answered right back in the fourth with a solo home run from Zack Bowers, his third of the year and the first for UGA since April 8, to tie the game at two, which is where it stood until the two-run seventh. The Gamecocks added a final insurance run in the eighth on a Joey Pankake RBI double down the third-base line that reached the wall and allowed Marcus Mooney to score from first>
With USC ahead 4-2 following the top of the seventh, Holbrook turned to Cody Mincey, who pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and tying a career-high with four strikeouts. Joel Seddon came on with two outs in the ninth to earn his 13th save of the year>
"Mincey pitched well," Holbrook said. "That was a big shot in the arm. That kept Joel fresh. Joel can go back in there tomorrow and get us an inning>
"It was really big what Mincey gave us today."
Greiner said he was glad the team was able to play a 1 p.m. game after the night game on Friday to help erase the bad memories from a poor performance>
"I think we were ready to play baseball again," Greiner said. "Georgia's a really good team, but I feel like we really beat ourselves last night. We were ready to get back on the field>
"It was a big win for us, and now we have a chance to win the series tomorrow."
UP NEXT: The two teams play again Sunday at 1 p.m. in the rubber game of the series>