Quick start carries Cougars past Gamecocks

West, homers key for College of Charleston

Special to The StateApril 17, 2012 

USC's Tanner English heads to second after a double in the fifth inning during the Gamecocks game against Florida at Carolina Stadium, Saturday, March 23, 2012.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

All the momentum No. 9 South Carolina gained in a weekend sweep of Mississippi State was lost Tuesday night against the College of Charleston.

The Gamecocks struggled to deliver a key hit and lost to the Cougars 4-3 to drop their second consecutive mid-week contest. The Cougars hit three home runs off Gamecock starter Nolan Belcher.

“They are an aggressive team and they jumped out on us early with the long ball,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “It was enough to keep us from winning the game. We gave up four runs — I will take that — but it wasn’t good enough for us.”

Former USC assistant Monte Lee, who is in his fourth season at Charleston, won for the first time in seven tries against his mentor. South Carolina had won eight in a row in the series and had not lost to the Cougars since 2007.

“I’m happy for our guys,” Lee said. “We believe we can play with anybody in the country on any given day. It’s a great win for our program but for me personally, I love the University of South Carolina and if it wasn’t for coach Tanner I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. I give a lot of credit to coach Tanner for the way I coach my team.”

Charleston leads the Southern Conference and has won five of its past six.

Daniel Aldrich started the hit parade for Charleston (26-12) with a two-run shot in the first inning. Brandon Glazer and Bradley Goodson hit solo home runs in the second and third inning, respectively. Belcher allowed four hits — all for extra bases — in his 2 2/3 innings to fall to 2-2.

“I didn’t make enough quality pitches down in the zone,” Belcher said. “Whenever I made a mistake, they made me pay for it.”

Charleston starter Ryan West kept the Gamecocks off-balance for the most part. The senior right-hander allowed a run on three hits, walked one and hit four batters. The Gamecocks stranded eight runners in his six innings, including the bases loaded in the fourth. The lone run came on a LB Dantzler double in the fifth inning.

West started against South Carolina in the Gamecocks’ 7-0 victory on April 4. He allowed two runs on six hits in five innings in that outing and he felt he was able to build off of that start.

“I was a little more focused and hyped up with the atmosphere that we were playing in,” West said. “I came out and didn’t try to do too much. They have some pretty good hitters and I was just trying to hit my spots.”

Tanner felt the effort of West was key.

“You certainly have to give West a tremendous amount of credit,” Tanner said. “He stymied us.”

South Carolina tied a school record by having five hit batters in a single game but those free passes didn’t help as the Gamecocks stranded 13 runners. They were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

The Gamecocks (27-11) made it interesting late when Tanner English delivered a two-run single with no outs in the eighth inning to pull within 4-3. But with runners on first and second, they could not do more damage.

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Full USC-College of Charleston box score

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