Gamecocks down Paladins 9-2
GREENVILLE, S.C. - In the first inning alone No. 5 South Carolina erased 36 innings of uninspiring offensive baseball with three runs, added four more in the second and cruised to a 9-2 victory over Furman at Fluor Field in front of 4,247 chilly fans.
In four games last week, USC didn't score more than two runs in a game while going 2-2 and only scored three runs all weekend in Arkansas. That all changed Tuesday night behind a 14-hit attack led by Kyle Martin's four RBI, three of which came on a home run in the third that broke the game open.
"It felt great," Martin said of performing well (3-for-4) in his hometown and helping spark a rejuvenated Gamecock attack. "I struggled a little bit this past weekend.
"I tried to just stay calm mainly, work both sides of the field and it worked."
Other Gamecocks coming alive were Marcus Mooney (3-4), Max Schrock (2-4) and Connor Bright (2-4). For head coach Chad Holbrook, seeing the bats come alive was encouraging.
"We score more runs tonight than we did all last week," said Holbrook, whose team improved to 27-5.
"That part I'm happy about.
"We're a work in progress right now offensively, but I think we look a little bit better offensively when Max and K-Mart swing the bat the way they're capable of. That makes us a little bit more of a threat.
"I think one of the reasons we were so anemic last week is that K-Mart and Max were struggling at the same time. It was good to see them swing the bat well tonight."
After Evan Beal got into early trouble and left the game in the second after allowing three hits and two runs while walking two and striking out none, freshman Taylor Widener (W, 2-0) entered the game and threw a career-high 4.2 innings and struck out a career-high four while allowing one hit, no runs a a walk.
"(Widener) threw very well at Arkansas, too," Holbrook said. "He's developing a little bit of a comfort zone. We have a lot of confidence in him, he throws strikes, he's got a little bit of a bulldog mentality throws to both sides of the plate and has really good command of his fastball.
"He kind of smoothed everything out. Evan didn't have command of his fastball tonight, and it's to be expected.
"It was good to see Taylor throw the way he did."
The Gamecocks got started with a Joey Pankake infield single then a sac bunt from Mooney to put Pankake in scoring position at second. Schrock then singled up the middle to score Pankake and give USC a 1-0 lead, then moved to second an errant pickoff attempt from Furman starter Ryan Dittman (L, 0-2) and took third on a wild pitch.
With Schrock at third and one out, Greiner walked to put runners at the corners and Schrock came home on Martin's RBI-single that put Greiner on second. Bright then hit a shot to short that was misplayed for the inning's second error that allowed Greiner to score from second and complete the scoring.
After Furman fought back with a two-spot in the bottom of the second, USC added four in the third on a double from Schrock, single from Greiner and three-run homer to right field from Martin. The inning's final run came on an RBI-single from Caldwell to give the Gamecocks a 9-2 lead they wouldn't lose as Curt Britt and John Parke came on to throw the final three scoreless innings.
For Holbrook, getting an early lead was key to the win and to building momentum heading into a three-game series against a Florida team that beat No. 1 Florida State 8-0 in Tallahassee Tuesday night.
"It made our dugout feel a lot better getting three (in the first inning), it really did," Holbrook said. "We needed it. We needed something to get a boost of confidence, because we've been a bit shaky, to be quite honest.
"I'm happy with the way we played, we won and made some nice plays defensively."
"It's a good win for us, thought. Anytime you go on the road and get a win, it's important."
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