By pulling off its first sweep of the SEC season, the South Carolina baseball team is rounding into form as it enters the second half of league play.
Sunday afternoons 6-4 win over Mississippi State at Carolina Stadium also boosted the No. 10 Gamecocks above the break-even point in SEC play for the first time this season. USC (27-10, 8-7 SEC) has won seven of its past nine conference games and three consecutive conference series after dropping its first two.
Finally, today we got over the .500 mark, USC coach Ray Tanner said. I think it does help, where you can relax a little bit and not feel so much pressure all the time.
Junior center fielder Evan Marzilli, who led the 11-hit attack with three hits, believes the Gamecocks might be fitting the pieces of the puzzle together.
I feel like our team is starting to mesh together a little more, Marzilli said. Weve had a young team, and a bunch of guys had to learn a bunch of different things. We had to learn how to play with each other and know our roles. This weekend, some guys started doing some good things, and it was a good weekend for us.
Junior right-hander Colby Holmes threw 8 1/3 solid innings to defeat the Bulldogs (21-15, 5-10 SEC). Holmes (5-0) also did not walk a batter for his second straight Sunday win, which he credited to an improved changeup.
His stuff was good all day long, Tanner said. That was a tremendous outing.
With USC facing a depleted bullpen after the first two wins, Holmes understood he needed to burn up some innings, something he did into the ninth.
I knew that I needed to go out there and pitch as long as I could, he said. I just pitched my heart out, and everything worked for me today.
The Bulldogs did manage to score two runs in the ninth on Mitch Slauters RBI infield single and Brent Brownless RBI groundout, but junior left-hander Tyler Webb got the final two outs for his second save.
Mississippi State fell behind 6-2 in the eighth on Joey Pankakes two-run single.
The big inning came in the fifth, when the Gamecocks answered Mississippi States two runs with three of their own. Bulldogs third baseman Daryl Norris one-out error on an LB Dantzler grounder down the line led to the rallys first run. It set up a sacrifice fly by Brison Celek and an RBI infield single by Adam Matthews to give the Gamecocks a 4-2 lead.
Marzilli, who scored the run on Celeks sacrifice fly, credited the hitters for making the adjustments that led to more runs this weekend.
Were going up there and swinging the bats and trying to be more aggressive, Marzilli said. That was the biggest change this weekend. I thought we did a good job with that.
The Gamecocks, who had lost nine of their past 10 games when scoring four runs or fewer, scored more than four all three games against the Bulldogs. Tanner agreed with Marzilli.
Were just getting better swings off, and if you can hit enough balls hard, youre going to get some balls to fall for you, Tanner said. Thats the difference in where we are and where weve been. Were just attacking a little bit better.
The Bulldogs grabbed their only lead in the fifth inning when Holmes gave up a single to Slauter and double to Hunter Renfroe to put runners at second and third with one out. Tyler Fullerton followed with a little dribbler out in front of the plate, and Holmes flipped the ball to catcher Dante Rosenberg, but Slauter slid in safely under the tag. That prompted a spirited argument from USC coach Ray Tanner, but the call stood.
With runners now on the corners, Sam Frost hit a comebacker to Holmes that the pitcher tried to turn for a double play. USC got the lead runner, but Pankakes throw pulled Walker off the bag and Renfroe scored to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.
The Gamecocks appear to have found their footing in the SEC.
Everybodys ecstatic, Holmes said. The guys are starting to swing the bats well; the pitchers are throwing great. All the guys are like one big family. Everybody is picking up each other, no matter good or bad.
South Carolina next plays host to College of Charleston on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
|Kentucky||11 - 4||.733||32 - 5||.865||22-2||9-3||1-0||W2|
|Florida||9 - 6||.600||28 - 8||.778||18-3||9-5||1-0||W1|
|South Carolina||8 - 7||.533||27 - 10||.730||21-4||5-6||1-0||W3|
|Georgia||7 - 8||.467||22 - 14||.611||18-10||3-4||1-0||L1|
|Tennessee||7 - 8||.467||21 - 15||.583||18-8||2-5||1-2||L1|
|Vanderbilt||6 - 9||.400||16 - 20||.444||15-11||1-9||0-0||W1|
|LSU||11 - 4||.733||30 - 7||.811||24-4||5-3||1-0||W6|
|Arkansas||8 - 7||.533||25 - 10||.714||21-4||2-5||2-1||L2|
|Ole Miss||7 - 8||.467||24 - 12||.667||18-5||6-7||0-0||W1|
|Auburn||7 - 8||.467||19 - 16||.543||14-7||4-9||1-0||L1|
|Mississippi St.||5 - 10||.333||21 - 15||.583||19-6||2-9||0-0||L3|
|Alabama||4 - 11||.267||13 - 23||.361||11-8||2-14||0-1||L4|
|Frazier ss||4||0||0||0||Pnkake ss||5||0||2||2|
|Brdford cf||4||0||2||0||Marzilli cf||4||2||3||0|
|Norris 3b||4||1||1||0||Walker 1b||4||1||0||1|
|Porter dh||4||1||1||0||Dntzler 3b||3||0||0||1|
|Rea 1b||4||0||0||0||Celek dh||3||0||0||1|
|Slauter c||4||1||2||1||Mtthws rf||4||0||2||1|
|Rnfroe rf||3||1||2||0||Rsnberg c||3||0||0||0|
|Fullrton lf||3||0||0||1||Greiner c||1||1||1||0|
|Casey ph||0||0||0||0||Vrgson 2b||3||1||2||0|
|Brwnl ph||1||0||0||1||English lf||3||1||1||0|
EFrazier (8); Norris (1); Pankake (13). DPMSU 1; S. Carolina 1. LOBMSU 5; S. Carolina 9. 2BPorter (4); Renfroe (11); Greiner (8); Vergason (2). 3BMarzilli (2). SHEnglish (5). SFCelek (1). SBMarzilli (7).
|Mitchell L,1-1||4 1/3||5||4||2||3||3|
|Holmes W,5-0||8 1/3||8||4||4||0||3|
Privette faced 1 batter in the 9th
UmpiresHP: Mark Chapman 1B: David Savage 3B: Steve Dew. T2:30. A7,011.