Holmes bounces back, helps Gamecocks top Cougars

Right-hander handcuffs Charleston as USC ends skid

nwhite@thestate.comMarch 26, 2013 

USC starting pitcher Colby Holmes

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

— The South Carolina baseball team was looking to bounce back from being swept over the weekend against Arkansas. Senior right-hander Colby Holmes was looking to bounce back from three consecutive poor starts.

Both accomplished their goals Tuesday night at Patriots Point Field, where the No. 17 Gamecocks defeated the College of Charleston 3-1 behind a strong outing from Holmes.

By allowing four hits and two walks over 7 1/3 innings while striking out eight, Holmes (2-2) rebounded impressively after being left out of the starting rotation against Arkansas.

“It was really big for our team and his confidence going forward,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “To have Colby Holmes throw like he can makes us a much better team.”

Since taking part in a no-hitter against Albany in the second series of the season, Holmes struggled in starts against Clemson, Rider and Missouri — going 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA while allowing 16 hits and eight walks in 101/3 innings. But he gave a big boost to a USC team that was outscored 24-8 in three losses against the Razorbacks.

“I had all my stuff working, and it brought a lot of confidence back to me,” Holmes said. “Keeping my fastball down and having my slider working, my curveball working and changeup working was a great feeling.”

Vince Fiori and Patrick Sullivan had key strikeouts with a runner on to finish the eighth inning in relief of Holmes. Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.

The Gamecocks (19-6) return to Carolina Stadium for the start of an SEC series Thursday night against Texas A&M. The teams last met in the 2011 College World Series.

Holbrook liked what he saw from his players after the disappointing sweep.

“I hope they feel good about themselves because I’m proud of them. I hope they feel good about how they played against a good team on the road after a tough weekend,” Holbrook said. “That makes it, obviously, a little bit more special than just your average middle-of-the-week win. I was anxious to see how they would respond, and they responded the right way.”

USC took a 2-0 lead off Nathan Helvey (2-2) in the first inning on LB Dantzler’s RBI double and Grayson Greiner’s run-scoring groundout.

“It’s definitely good to bounce back. It was a tough weekend, and we wanted to come in and score early and give Colby some runs,” said Danztler, who added another double in the fifth inning.

Holmes liked seeing that.

“When we score first, it takes a lot of pressure off you,” he said. “You know you’ve got runs to work with.”

The Cougars (13-11) cut the lead to 2-1 in the third inning on Tyler Jackson’s two-out RBI double. The Gamecocks got the run back in the sixth without benefit of a hit after a walk, hit batsman, sacrifice, and Dante Rosenberg’s sacrifice fly.

“You know Holmes isn’t going to walk anybody,” Charleston coach Monte Lee said. “We were going to have to come in and swing the bats, and I was disappointed in the fact we were a little bit too passive at the plate. We took a lot of fastballs that I felt like we should have swung at, and we fell behind in the count. They did a good job of expanding (the strike zone) and making pitches when they got ahead of us.”

BOX SCORE: USC 3, Charleston 1

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