Eleventh ranked South Carolina pounded out a season-high 17 hits and all nine starters reached base at least once as the Gamecocks defeated Tennessee 12-8 to clinch the three-game series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland was tremendous in relief allowing just one run on five hits in a season-high six innings to improve to 4-0 on the year. The Gamecocks are now 25-7 and 7-4 in the league with Tennessee now 13-16 and 3-8 in the SEC.
The 17-hit performance for the Gamecocks featured three-hit games from Connor Bright, Graham Saiko and Chase Vergason, all tying their career-highs. Dante Rosenberg doubled twice and drove in a career-high three runs. Vergason and Schrock each homered with Schrock, Tanner English and Joey Pankake driving in two runs apiece. Tennessee’s 13-hit day featured a 3-for-4 game from Pierce Bily as well as two hits from David Houser, Vincent Jackson, Will Maddox and Taylor Smart.
Westmoreland struck out six and walked none in his six-inning stint. Tennessee starter Nick Williams suffered the loss and is 1-2 for the year. He allowed eight runs on eight hits in three innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
“We had some big swings of the bat offensively and squared some balls up,” said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. “It was good to see that for us against a good arm. Williams has been around in this league and has had some very good outings. To perform and do that against him makes me feel very good (for our offense). It is a very satisfying series win for us.”
Carolina raced out with eight runs in the first three innings to take a commanding 8-0 lead.
Vergason drilled a 1-0 pitch from Williams in the first inning for his fourth homer of the year for the first run of the game. It was the first home run Williams allowed this season. Tennessee looked to answer in the bottom half of the first loading the bases with two outs on a pair of walks and a base hit but South Carolina starter Evan Beal worked out of the jam inducing a groundout by Vincent Jackson to second to end the threat.
Carolina scored two more runs in the second inning. Brison Celek walked with one out followed by a base hit by Bright to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners. Rosenberg drove in Celek with a RBI double as he belted a 1-2 pitch to left field. English plated home Bright on a RBI groundout to the shortstop.
The scoring continued in the third inning as Carolina batted around to score five runs with two outs increasing the lead to 8-0. It all started with a two-out walk as LB Dantzler fought off a 3-2 count to earn a walk. That set the stage for Schrock, who crushed a two-run homer to right-center, his second home run of the season. Schrock, who did not have a RBI in conference play for the weekend, increased that total to three for the series with his homer. Celek reached base for the second time in the game on a hit by pitch. Bright followed with his second hit as he singled to left field. Both would then score as Rosenberg connected for his second double of the game as his ball sailed to the left-centerfield gap. English would drive in Rosenberg as he also tallied a RBI double.
Tennessee responded in the bottom of the third sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring seven times to cut the Gamecock lead to one run. Nine straight batters reached base for Tennessee. Will Maddox led off with a single and Jeff Moberg was hit by a 3-2 pitch from Evan Beal to give Tennessee a pair of runners. That ended the day for Beal as Carolina went to the pen for left-hander Jack Wynkoop.
Scott Price would single to load the bases. The Volunteers then caught a break as Wynkoop’s 3-2 pitch to Stewart was just inside and hit him scoring Maddox for the first run of the frame. Tennessee then got their bats going as Pierce Bily singled to score a run. Carolina would go to the pen for right-hander Curt Britt. Designated hitter Vincent Jackson took a 1-0 pitch from Britt down the right field line for a triple, clearing the bases. A RBI single from Taylor Smart scored Jackson. David Houser also singled and the bases were then loaded as A.J. Simcox reached base on a throwing error by Rosenberg on a sac bunt attempt. Westmoreland entered for Britt and got the next three outs yielding just one more run as the Gamecocks stayed ahead 8-7 on the Volunteers.
“(It was) the inning that never would end and Adam finally ended it,” added Coach Holbrook. “(Adam) kept us in the game and stopped their momentum. He kept everybody comfortable in the dugout and confident that we could still win the game.”
Both Westmoreland and Tennessee reliever Trevor Bettencourt settled in as both teams went scoreless in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Insurance runs were at a premium and the Gamecocks scratched across three in the sixth and one in the seventh to build a five-run cushion. Saiko singled with one out in the sixth followed by a base hit from Vergason. They both would score on Joey Pankake’s RBI double to the gap in left-center. Pankake displayed great base running then as he advanced twice on balls in the dirt and scored on a wild pitch for the third run of the sixth inning. South Carolina made it 12-7 in the seventh inning on Saiko’s one-out double to left-center scoring English.
Westmoreland limited Tennessee the rest of the way as the Volunteers had no more than one base runner per inning from the fifth to the eighth. Taylor Smart’s solo home run n the seventh inning was the lone run for the Volunteers against Westmoreland.
In the ninth inning, after a leadoff single by Bily, South Carolina went to the pen one more time for left-hander Tyler Webb. Webb got out of the ninth with a scoreless inning of relief to preserve the four-run victory.
South Carolina’s series victory over Tennessee marks the seventh consecutive series victory for the Gamecocks over the Volunteers and South Carolina’s third series win in four SEC series this season.
Story by USC Sports Information