USC gets in rhythm vs. Wofford

Westmoreland starts coming around and Walker remains hot in victory

nwhite@thestate.comMay 4, 2011 

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JOHN BYRUM/john.byrum@shj.com South Carolina's Adam Westmoreland pitches against Wofford on Wednesday night at Russell C. King Field.

JOHN BYRUM — The Spartanburg Herald-Journal

SPARTANBURG | Adam Westmoreland found his form for the first time in two months Wednesday night.

In the process, USC’s sophomore left-hander picked up his first win of the season — and his first since the 2009 season — in a 9-3 victory against Wofford at Russell C. King Field.

Westmoreland (1-1), who sat out the 2010 season after Tommy John surgery, allowed two runs on six hits over 51/3 innings while striking out five. It was his longest stint since March 8 against Clemson, when he gave up one run over 51/3 innings.

“It felt a lot better today,” said Westmoreland, who first started to come around last week in a start against Liberty. “I feel like my confidence level is growing.”

The former Brookland-Cayce standout tossed five shutout innings before giving up a two-run homer to Wofford catcher David Roney in the sixth. But he received more than enough run support from his teammates to collect the win.

“I thought he was pretty sharp. He had a quality outing,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “We get in a situation now where he can pitch more. We need some innings from the left(-handed) side.”

Christian Walker led USC’s 14-hit attack with four hits, while Evan Marzilli, who was coming off Monday’s ablation procedure to treat his intermittent rapid heartbeat, ripped a single, double and triple.

“Everything went great (with the procedure). I felt good today,” said Marzilli, who raised his steadily-climbing average to .278.

“Baseball is a game of adjustments, and one of the adjustments I had to make was shorten my swing,” he added.

Tanner said he let Marzilli made the decision on if he felt strong enough to play. Tanner was glad to see him out in center, especially with Jackie Bradley out.

“He had a pretty good night,” Tanner said.

Brady Thomas also added three singles, as the second-ranked Gamecocks improved to 36-8 heading into their SEC weekend series at Mississippi.

USC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Wofford right-hander Drew Sheridan gave up a walk followed by a Scott Wingo single to start the game. Walker then lined an RBI single down the left-field line. Wingo later scored on a passed ball. The Gamecocks pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third when Thomas stroked a two-out RBI single to score Walker, who had doubled off reliever Pete Noordsy.

Walker continues his torrid pace at the plate as he raised his average to .386.

“Everything feels good right now. I’m not thinking too much at the plate,” Walker said.

Tanner continues to be impressed by what Walker is doing with the bat.

“When balls are in the zone, he hits them hard,” Tanner said. “He’s a disciplined hitter.”

Jake Williams, the transfer from Wofford, collected a pair of RBIs on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth and a single in the seventh against his former teammates, while Wingo had two hits and a sacrifice fly. Wofford used six pitchers on the night.

After Westmoreland departed, the Terriers (19-26) could not muster much offense off USC relievers Steven Neff, Jose Mata and Bryan Harper either.

James Foster led Wofford with three singles.

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