Nick Ebert’s hot bat continued to sizzle Saturday as South Carolina defeated Georgia 6-1 at Carolina Stadium to complete a three-game sweep.
Ebert, a transfer from Central Florida Community College, could not win either the third base or first base job in the fall or spring. Then he jumped into the starting lineup in the season’s fifth game and has not looked back, establishing himself as USC’s main power source.
Against Georgia, Ebert belted four home runs and drove in 10 runs. He closed out the weekend series with a run-scoring single in the first inning and a solo home run in the fourth.
Ebert’s 22 home runs this season are tied with Justin Smoak (2007) and Tripp Kelly (2000) for fourth-most in school history. His next home run will tie him with Smoak (2008) and Joe Datin (1985) for the second-highest total.
“I don’t think anybody expected me to hit 15,” Ebert said. “That was the mark I was shooting for coming in, but I surpassed that and definitely surpassed all my expectations.”
USC would need a deep postseason run for Ebert to catch Yaron Peters’ all-time best 29 home runs hit in 2002. Ebert probably would enhance his chances if USC could play host to an NCAA Regional and Super Regional.
Ebert more than any other USC player has found Carolina Stadium to be the most friendly of confines. The new park has proved to be just as much a power-hitter’s paradise as Sarge Frye Field, and no one knows that better than Ebert.
“I heard the ball flew out of Sarge, but I think it flies a little better here,” Ebert said. “I never played a season at Sarge, but the ball flies here. I love hitting in this park.”
Of Ebert’s 22 home runs, 17 have come at home. He has bunched his home runs at Carolina Stadium, hitting six in seven games early in the non-conference schedule, then one each in a three-game home series against Vanderbilt before the four this weekend against Georgia.
“After a few games, we gave him a chance and he had a few good at-bats and, of course, the rest is history,” said USC coach Ray Tanner. “But, no, I never saw that coming. Just give the young man credit. He’s very, very physical, he worked extremely hard and he’s tough. He’s a tough kid.”
Birdseed. Fifth-seeded USC will face No. 4-seed Alabama at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala. ... USC completed the regular season with a 37-19 record overall and finished second in the SEC East Division with a 17-13 mark. ... With the idea that Blake Cooper could be the starting pitcher in Wednesday’s tournament opener, USC limited the right-hander to two innings. Cooper did not allow a run on one hit and threw 35 pitches. ... Tanner said either Cooper or freshman right-hander Adam Westmoreland would start on Wednesday. ... Jay Brown followed Cooper out of the bullpen and pitched six strong innings, allowing one run on three hits, walking two and striking out four. ... DeAngelo Mack was a late scratch from playing left field with shin splints, but remained in the game as the designated hitter. Mack extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a ground single to right field in the first inning. ... USC closed the regular season with a seven-game win streak and 10 victories in their final 11 games.
Reach Morris at (803) 771-8432
USC vs Georgia
|Taylor lrf||2||1||1||0||Merrifield cf||5||0||1||0|
|Cerione cf||4||0||0||0||Mack dh||3||1||1||0|
|Poythress 1b||3||0||0||1||Bradley rf||3||0||0||0|
|Lewis c||2||0||1||0||Ebert 1b||3||2||2||2|
|Massanari c||2||0||1||0||Enders c||4||0||0||0|
|Allen rf||4||0||1||0||Crisp 3b||3||1||1||0|
|Davidson dh||2||0||0||0||Matthews lf||4||0||0||0|
|O’Bryan ph||2||0||0||0||Haney ss||3||1||1||2|
|May 3b||3||0||1||0||Wingo 2b||4||1||2||2|
|Georgia||000||000||010—1 South Carolina||100||100||04x—6|
E—May, Wingo. DP—Georgia 1, South Carolina 2. LOB—Georgia 7, South Carolina 7. 2B—Allen, Crisp, Haney, Wingo. HR—Ebert, Wingo. HBP—Taylor, May. SB—Taylor, Merrifield, Matthews. CS—Poythress.
|Grimm L, 2-4||3||ð||4||2||2||1||2|
|Cooper W, 8-4||2||1||0||0||1||1|
HBP—by Cooper (Taylor), by Brown (May).
Umpires—Home, Graham; first, Erby; third, Dew.