Baseball | no. 5 usc 12, davidson 4

Dantzler leads offensive surge

nwhite@thestate.comMarch 13, 2013 

South Carolina carries plenty of momentum into its first SEC series of the season thanks in large part to a surge powered by senior captain LB Dantzler.

The USC first baseman blasted a pair of home runs and drove in a career-best six runs to lead the fifth-ranked Gamecocks past Davidson 12-4 Wednesday night at Carolina Stadium.

The win was the seventh in a row for USC (15-2), which travels to Missouri (4-7), one of the SEC’s two new teams, for the first meeting between the programs this weekend.

The left-handed-hitting Dantzler drilled a two-run homer in the first inning and added a three-run shot in a five-run sixth inning that blew the game open. Both homers were pulled over the right-field fence. He also had a single in the third inning and a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Dantzler, who leads the team with a .429 average, six home runs and 23 RBIs, attributes the fast start to a renewed confidence.

“Last year, I was hitting some balls hard at the beginning of the year, and they weren’t falling,” he said. “It’s tough when you look at your average going into SEC play and you’re only hitting .220 and feel like you should be closer to .320. I got off to a good start this year and got some confidence. Really, that’s all I can say.”

After transferring from a Florida junior college last season, Dantzler was a solid contributor with good but not great numbers — a .262 average with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 69 games. USC coach Chad Holbrook believes Dantzler is more relaxed this season with a better all-around approach at the plate.

“I think he’s more comfortable here now. A lot of times when you get to a new place and new surroundings, you try to do a little bit too much. You want to make an impression, and sometimes you might try too hard,” Holbrook said. “But he’s very comfortable here now, and he knows we’re counting on him. He has a lot of confidence, he’s stronger, (and) he’s using the whole field a little more.”

The Gamecocks got 72/3 shutout innings from their first three pitchers — starter Joel Seddon and relievers Curt Britt and Vince Fiori.

“I was impressed with Joel Seddon, Curt Britt and Vince Fiori. I thought they threw the ball very well,” Holbrook said.

Seddon, the sophomore right-hander who drew his first start of the season, tossed four scoreless innings before Britt, a freshman right-hander, was credited with his first win for two scoreless relief innings.

“It was good to get some innings under my belt. I did get off to a little slow start, but I think I got stronger as the outing went on,” Seddon said. “It helps a lot when these guys put up some runs early. It helps with confidence out there.”

Seddon entered the game with a 7.71 ERA in four brief relief appearances and finished it with a 2.84 ERA.

“All Joel needs to do is pitch and get some confidence out there,” Holbrook said. “We’re going to need Joel in relief on the weekend, and he could possibly start games in the middle of the week. We need a guy with that kind of stuff.”

The Gamecocks lit up the Wildcats (6-8) for 13 hits — including two each from Max Schrock and Kyle Martin — one night after pounding out 14 in a 12-3 win against USC Upstate.

“We feel good about the way we swung the bat in the middle of the week,” Holbrook said. “We’ve played 17 games, and we’ve played well for the most part. Now SEC play starts and our players are excited about getting that part of the season started.”

The Gamecocks will use a weekend rotation of sophomore right-hander Evan Beal on Friday, senior left-hander Nolan Belcher on Saturday and senior right-hander Colby Holmes on Sunday.

Foy 2b5130Saiko lf 2111
Daniels 3b3010Carson lf1010
MdLndn ph1000Schrock 2b3221
Brandt cf4000Iskndrn 3b1110
Tovsky ph1110Pnkake ss2211
Miller lf4000Arndas ss1000
Ruznsky ph1110Dntzler 1b3236
Barna 1b4112Celek 1b1000
Lowe dh3000Greiner c3001
Arkin dh1010Bright rf4000
Zeblo ss4012Payne lf0000
Becker rf4000Martin dh5220
Gerow c2000Vrgson 2b3110
Mdlbrks dh1000Costen rf3110
Dyer c0000
Totals38494Totals321213 10


E—Daniels (4); Caudill (1); Pankake (4); Vergason (4). DP—Davidson 3. LOB—Davidson 13; S. Carolina 7. 2B—Barna (4); Carson (1). HR—Dantzler 2 (6). HBP—Becker, Gerow, Pankake. SF—Saiko (4); Dantzler (2); Greiner (2). SB—Costen (3). CS—Dantzler (1).

Caudill L,0-1 254410

Britt W,1-0200000

WP—Moss (1); Richards 3 (5); Seddon (1). HBP—by O’Linger (Pankake); by Fiori (Gerow); by Knab (Becker). BK—Caudill (1); Moss (1). Umpires—HP: Mike Guerry 1B: Joe Marion 2B: Tom Haight 3B: Gary Keller. T—2:55. A—6,450

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