USC scored five runs in the first inning and lefthanders Nolan Belcher and Tyler Webb protected the lead from there as the Gamecocks clinched the SEC series with Texas A&M with a 6-4 victory Friday night at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks upped their record to 21-6 overall and 4-4 in the SEC. The Aggies dropped to 18-10 and 5-3.
The Gamecocks’ five spot in the first was started with a pair of walks. LB Dantzler and Connor Bright had RBI singles, Grayson Greiner drew a bases loaded walk, and Tanner English doubled in two to complete the scoring. Greiner was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on English’s double to end the inning.
The fact Greiner went in standing up drew the ire of coach Chad Holbrook who, in his post game press conference, pledged to give a month’s salary to a charity the next time one of his players fails to slide on a close play at the plate.
Belcher sailed threw the first three innings facing the minimum and striking out five. He gave up an unearned run in the fourth but the Gamecocks got it back in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Joey Pankake.
A&M added two more runs in the seventh to cut the lead to 6-3. Belcher carried the three run edge to the ninth. With one out, Pankake misplayed a hard hit ball at short for his second error and Jerry Meyers brought out the hook for Belcher. Tyler Webb gave up a couple of pop fly singles to left that scored another unearned run for a 6-4 game. But with runners on the corners and two outs, Webb struck out Krey Bratsen looking to end the game and earn his 10th save of the season while Belcher moved to 5-2. Belcher finished with 9 strikeouts and did not walk a batter improving his strikeout to walk radio to 51/1. Aggie hitters have struck out 28 times in the two games.
The USC offense showed some life breaking out of a two week slump. The Gamecocks collected 11 hits, their most in an SEC game this season, and their first double digit hits game since pounding out 13 hits March 13th against Davidson.
The Gamecocks will go for the series sweep Saturday afternoon at 1:30. Freshman lefthander Jack Wynkoop will start for the Gamecocks. He’s 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA. Righthander Danel Mengden will start for the Aggies. He’s 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA.