Second ranked South Carolina scored seven runs in the sixth inning and held off a late rally by Liberty to earn a 9-6 victory on Tuesday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks improved to 32-8 on the year; Liberty fell to 22-19.
Jose Mata (3-0) picked up the win with 2.0 innings of relief, giving up two earned runs on one hit while walking two and striking out one. Matt Price earned his 12th save of the year, striking out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth. Adam Westmoreland earned the start for the Gamecocks, striking out a season-high seven batters in 4.1 innings of work. Liberty starting pitcher Garrett Baker (5-3) suffered the loss. He allowed six runs, five earned, on seven hits with three strikeouts.
Christian Walker, Adrian Morales and Peter Mooney each had two hits to lead the 10-hit effort for the Gamecocks. Walker added his ninth home run of the season to lead off the sixth, in which Carolina sent 12 batters to the plate, scoring seven runs on seven hits.
The game was delayed for 53 minutes in the top of the eighth inning because of lightning in the Columbia area.
South Carolina broke ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Brady Thomas reached base to lead off the inning on a fielding error by Liberty shortstop Matt Williams. With one out Adrian Morales got on with an infield single. With a pair of runners, Peter Mooney would drive in Thomas with a RBI base hit to right field. Robert Beary added a RBI double off the wall in left-center to score Morales.
Liberty’s Ryan Cordell cut the deficit to 2-1 in the top of the fourth with a solo home run to left-center, his first career collegiate homer. They would tie it at 2-2 in the fifth inning as Ian Parmley singled to lead off the frame, stole second base and scored on Michael Robertson’s RBI base hit to left-center. That hit ended the afternoon for Gamecock starter Adam Westmoreland. The Carolina lefty allowed two runs on six hits in 4.1 innings.
With the score deadlocked at 2-2, Carolina made its move in the sixth inning as Walker led off with a solo homer to left-center. He has now reached base in 26 straight games. A one-out triple by Jake Williams kept things going and was followed by a RBI base hit off the bat of Morales. Mooney singled for his second hit of the game and a walk to Robert Beary loaded the bases. Pinch hitter Michael Roth delivered with the bags full as he laced a two-run single to the gap in right-center. Scott Wingo added a RBI base hit and Walker had his second hit of the inning with a RBI single. Brady Thomas closed the scoring out with a RBI sacrifice fly to center field.
Liberty would scratch across two runs in the seventh and eighth innings before Price came in to close out the game for Carolina. Price struck out the first two batters and ended the game with a fly out to left field to preserve Carolina’s win.
-STORY FROM USC SID-