USC beats USC Upstate

nwhite@thestate.comMarch 12, 2013 

— Tuesday night’s win over USC Upstate will never be classified as a thing of beauty, but South Carolina will take substance over style any day.

The No. 5 Gamecocks took care of the Spartans 12-3 at Carolina Stadium by pounding out 14 hits – seven for extra bases -- and taking advantage of eight walks while getting patchwork pitching from a trio of arms. “Anytime you can get double-digit hits and double-digit runs against a really good team, you’ve got to feel good about yourselves, and we do,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said.

South Carolina (14-2) plays Davidson (6-7) tonight at 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium before SEC play starts at Missouri this weekend. Sophomore right-hander Joel Seddon (1-0) will start against Davidson. Second baseman Max Schrock collected two hits, including one double, two walks, and three RBI on the night, while designated hitter Brison Celek drilled a three-run double in the fourth inning to bust the game open.

“All of our guys are confident at the plate up there right now, and that’s what we need,” Schrock said. Shortstop Joey Pankake stayed hot with three hits, including a double, and a pair of walks to up his average to .367. USC had five doubles and a pair of triples, including a two-run one by LB Dantzler, on the game. “We swung the bats well tonight. Joey continues to play well. Max was terrific again. I keep looking at the 14 hits and no errors, (it was) a pretty clean game,” Holbrook said.

Celek’s hit, which pushed the lead to 7-3, came three innings after he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the first. He didn’t want that to happen again.

“I needed to get something up in the air, and luckily he threw a fastball or slider outside,” Celek said. “I don’t know which one it was, but I stayed back on it and took it to right field.”

The junior, one of eight players to start at DH this season, was starting only his second game on the season, and he was determined to take advantage of his opportunity.

“We’re all good teammates and pull for each other,” he said. “Of course, everybody wants to get out there and play, but when they call my number, I try to get as focused as I can during BP and put some good swings together during the game.”

Holbrook liked that Celek made something good happen, a heartening thing since the DH spot had yielded only a .190 average on the season entering the game.

“I’m proud of Brison. He’s had a great attitude. He wants to play more. He thinks he should be getting a few more cracks at it, and I told him, ‘I don’t disagree with you,’” Holbrook said “He’s got some power, and he works very hard. It was nice to see him clear the bases.”

The pitchers took advantage of the run support, although they gave up 10 hits and walked five. Freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop (3-0) picked up the win with 2 2/3 innings of relief. Senior right-hander Patrick Sullivan closed the game with 3 1/3 shutout innings for his first save of the season.

Wynkoop came out after 47 pitches because he’s likely to pitch against Missouri, perhaps as the Sunday starter, although Holbrook and pitching coach Jerry Meyers are still contemplating the rotation. It will definitely include Nolan Belcher on Saturday and probably Evan Beal on Friday.

Wynkoop is preparing to pitch in either role.

“They want me to be back, obviously, so I was on a (40-60) pitch count,” he said. “Hopefully, I can come in and contribute this weekend when I get the chance.”

The Gamecocks took their first lead with three runs in the second off Upstate starter Chris Cox (1-2). They collected five hits in the second, with the runs scoring on George Iskenderian’s RBI groundout, Sean Sullivan’s sacrifice fly and Schrock’s RBI single.

The Spartans (10-5) jumped on USC starter Forrest Koumas for a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After two walks and a sacrifice, Luke Weber had a sacrifice fly and Brandon Patterson had an RBI single. But things quickly unraveled after that.

“The walks are uncharacteristic for us at this point so that was disheartening,” Upstate coach Matt Fincher said. “There were other mistakes, too, we normally don’t make that were surprising to me. You just move on. That’s all you can do. They clearly have a very good team, but from my perspective, that’s who you want to play. I sure wish we could play them more often.”

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