A strong offensive perfomance – including a couple of triples – was the key to the game tonight for South Carolina, as the Yardcocks thumped the Spartans 12-3.
The game got off to a shaky start for USC as pitcher Forrest Koumas allowed back-to-back walks to begin the game. A sac fly from Gaither Bumgardner followed by a sac bunt by Luke Weber brought in Upstate’s first run, and a single from Brandon Patterson made it 2-0.
The Cocks threatened in the bottom of the first, but came away with nothing. Graham Saiko led off with a base hit, but was picked off. As a sort of teaching moment, that base running mistake led to his removal from the game by coach Chad Holbrook. Max Schrock, Joey Pankake, and LB Dantzler took back-to-back-to-back walks to fill the bases with Gamecocks, but Brison Celek hit into a double play to end the inning.
Carolina got on the board – and took the lead – in the next inning. Connor Bright led off with a triple, and he came home on a groundout by George Iskenderian. Dante Rosenberg followed that with a single and TJ Costen, who had been struggling at the plate, knocked a double. A sac fly from Sean Sullivan brought Rosenberg across the dish, and a RBI single from Schrock made it 3-2 Yardcocks.
The Spartans looked like they might tie the game – or take back the lead – in the third inning. After a wild pitch and passed ball put Weber at second base with two outs, Daniel Seeba walked and Patterson singled to load the bases. They couldn’t bring anyone home, though, and USC managed to escape the inning unscathed. South Carolina added another run in the bottom of the third. Celek took a lead-off walk, advanced on a wild pitch and groundout, then came home on a RBI single from Iskenderian to make it 4-2 Gamecocks.
The Spartans scored their third and final run in the top of the fourth inning. Tyler Miller led off with a single, Brody Greer laid down a sac bunt, and Jordan Stampler stroked a base hit to center to bring Miller in. Carolina tacked on two more in the bottom of the fourth, as Costen started things off with a double, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Pankake and Dantzler walked with two outs, and Celek came through with a three-run double to extend the lead to 7-2.
The Cocks added more runs in the sixth inning. Schrock coaxed a one-out walk, Pankake singled, and Dantzler tripled to bring them home and make it 9-2 in favor of the home team. South Carolina put up their final three runs in the seventh inning. With one out, Rosenberg got plunked, giving him a booboo and a free base. Costen laid down a bunt single to put runners on first and second, and Schrock banged a two-out double to bring Rosenberg and Costen across the dish. Schrock got to third on a fielding error, then Pankake, who was named the SEC and National Player of the Week, kept his hot streak alive and double to left to get Schrock home.
Issues with control and command plagues almost every pitcher who took the mound tonight. Koumas worked three innings and allowed two runs, three hits, walked three batters, and also struck out three. Freshman Jack Wynkoop wasn’t quite as sharp as he’s been in previous appearances, but he went 2 2/3 innings and gave up just one run, four hits, walked a batter, and also got a strikeout. He earned the win and improves to 3-0 on the season. Patrick Sullivan pitched the final 3 1/3 innings and allowed no runs, three hits, issued one walk, and struck out three batters. He got the save, his first of the season.
Upstate starter Chris Cox worked two innings and gave up three runs, six hits, and walked three batters. He took the loss and drops to 1-2 on the season. The Spartans used five pitchers who combined to issue eight walks.
Pankake led South Carolina at the plate, going 3-for-3, scoring two runs, tallying one RBI, and coaxing two walks. He also made a stellar defensive play tonight, diving for a ball and tossing it from his knees. Seeba was 2-for-2 with two walks to lead Upstate.
The Yardcocks will be back in action tomorrow night against Davidson. Joel Seddon will start on the mound for USC and the first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. As always, follow @CockyCountry on Twitter for live updates and commentary!