Pankake makes the most of special day

Freshman hits his first home run

nwhite@thestate.comFebruary 28, 2012 

The South Carolina baseball team found a fitting way to celebrate National Pancake Day.

Freshman shortstop Joey Pankake hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to provide the margin of victory in a 2-1 victory against Presbyterian on Tuesday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. He drilled the ball over the fence in left-center field for the first homer and RBI of his young career to give the No. 3 Gamecocks their first lead of the day, which four USC pitchers made stand up.

Pankake admitted that his special day ended as well as it started.

“I got to go get me some free pancakes today at IHOP so that was pretty fun,” he said. “I always do that back home in Easley. I have for the past few years. It started the day off nice.”

USC coach Ray Tanner continues to see steady progress from Pankake, who was drafted out of Easley High by the Texas Rangers last summer, on the offensive and defensive end.

“He’s just gotten more comfortable. He’s a guy that we recruited because we thought he was really good, and he is,” Tanner said. “The ability is there. He’s got a good arm, he’s got some power, and he can run pretty good. He does seem to be playing a little more relaxed, which is a good thing. You feel like when a ball is hit his way that he’s going to make a play.”

The Gamecocks upped their record to 7-0 with their first mid-week win of the season, while the Blue Hose dropped to 0-8. But baseball is unlike other sports, where a good opposing pitcher on the mound can neutralize any team. PC freshman left-hander Beau Dees, who was making his first start, handcuffed the Gamecocks, allowing two runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings.

“Beau Dees was impressive. I told the young man after the game that if you pitch that well, you deserve to win. He did everything he could to keep Presbyterian with a chance to win the game,” Tanner said. “I’ve been in this game a long time, and this riddle has never been solved. Those lefties just continue to do that. They’ve been carving up people for a long, long time.”

But Pankake solved him in one at-bat.

“He was keeping us off-balance,” Pankake said. “I was trying to get the bat to the ball and put something in play to get something started. It just happened to go out.”

USC left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who also was making his first start, pitched four solid innings, although he gave up a first-inning run, and three relievers pitched shutout baseball the rest of the way.

Junior left-hander Nolan Belcher pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to pick up his first win since beating Wofford in May of 2010. He missed the 2011 season because of Tommy John surgery.

“It feels good to get back out there and get an opportunity,” Belcher said. “It’s fun pitching, so I’m glad to be back. I was trying to come out of the bullpen in a tight game and throw strikes and get ahead and let my defense work for me.”

Junior right-hander Ethan Carter also pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, while junior left-hander Tyler Webb got the final out for his first save.

“Once again, the pitching staff did a heck of a job for us to keep us in a position to win,” Tanner said. “We needed for those guys to be good. There was no cushion today.”

The Blue Hose took a 1-0 lead in the first when Gabe Grammer, who led off with a single, scored on Tony Micklon’s one-out bloop single. The Gamecocks tied the game in the third on a leadoff triple to second baseman T.J. Costen, who scored on Evan Marzilli’s RBI groundout.

USC plays No. 15 Clemson (4-2), this weekend in a three-game series, but Belcher said the Gamecocks weren’t overlooking the Blue Hose.

“We definitely weren’t looking ahead at all,” he said. “We knew PC was going to come in here and give us a good game. They’ve played us tight ever since I’ve been here.”

123456789-RHE
Presbyterian100000000-150
South Carolina00110000X-240

PC ab r h rbi bb so po a lob
GRAMMER, Gabe cf 4 1 1 0 0 1 4 0 0
WILLIAMS, Andrew 2b 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0
LIZANICH, Jay 3b 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 1
MICKLON, Tony lf 4 0 2 1 0 2 1 0 1
BRYANT, Kenny 1b 4 0 0 0 0 1 6 1 1
PEDEN, Matt dh 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
SWAB, Robby c 2 0 0 0 1 1 5 0 0
PAUL, Brandon rf 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1
PRESTON, Aaron rf 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
MOTRONI, Billy ss 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0
DEES, Beau p 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0
MORRIS, Ryan p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
RICCHI, Michael p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 29 1 5 1 1 6 24 6 4

USC ab r h rbi bb so po a lob
Evan Marzilli cf 4 0 2 1 0 0 6 0 0
Tanner English lf 3 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0
Grayson Greiner c 3 0 0 0 1 1 6 2 0
Brison Celek 1b 1 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 0
Christian Walker 1b 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0
LB Dantzler 3b 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 6
Joey Pankake ss 3 1 1 1 0 0 1 3 0
Adam Matthews rf 3 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0
Erik Payne dh 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
TJ Costen 2b 1 1 1 0 0 0 3 1 0
Chase Vergason 2b 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jordan Montgomery p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Nolan Belcher p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ethan Carter p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Tyler Webb p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 27 2 4 2 3 5 27 10 6

DP - S. Carolina 1. LOB - PC 4; S. Carolina 6. 3B - Costen(1). HR - Pankake(1). HBP - WILLIAMS, A.; Walker. SH - LIZANICH, J.(1); English(2). SB - Marzilli(3). CS - BRYANT, K.(1).

Presbyterian ip h r er bb so wp bk hbp ibb ab bf fo go np
DEES, Beau L,0-1 7.1 4 2 2 1 5 1 0 1 0 25 28 10 7 100
MORRIS, Ryan 0.1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 12
RICCHI, Michael 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 5

South Carolina ip h r er bb so wp bk hbp ibb ab bf fo go np
Jordan Montgomery 4.0 4 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 13 15 4 5 46
Nolan Belcher W,1-0 2.1 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 8 8 3 1 34
Ethan Carter 2.1 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 7 8 3 2 31
Tyler Webb S,1 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 2

Win - Belcher (1-0). Loss - DEES, B. (0-1). Save - Webb (1). WP - DEES, B.(1). HBP - by Montgomery (WILLIAMS, A.); by DEES, B. (Walker). Pitches/strikes: DEES, B. 100/63; MORRIS, R. 12/3; RICCHI, M. 5/3; Montgomery 46/29; Belcher 34/20; Carter 31/21; Webb 2/1.

Umpires - HP: Clint Lawson 1B: Barry Chambers 3B: Ben Sass

Start: 4:00 pm

Time: 2:06

Attendance: 6,521

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