Parker Bangs had a well rounded day for South Carolina during Saturday afternoon's doubleheader at Carolina Stadium.
He was instrumental on offense in Game 1 and pitched in the ninth inning of Game 2 as the Gamecocks swept two games from Brown, 8-4 and 10-7.
The junior from Laurinburg, N.C., came into the first game 0-for-6 on the season after being primarily used out of the bullpen. Inserted into the lineup at DH, Bangs responded by going 3-for-4 with his first home run - a three-run blast - and tied his career-high with four RBIs.
"You just try to keep plugging away, and eventually something is going to happen for you," Bangs said.
Ray Tanner said Bangs is still a force out of the bullpen but thinks he has worked his way into getting more chances at the plate.
"He gave us a lift," Tanner said. "We went into the season thinking he may get an opportunity to hit against left-handers, and that's what we did today. It worked out well for us, so you will probably get to see that again."
Bangs pitched 1/3 of the ninth inning during the nightcap, which was marred by Jackie Bradley's hand injury.
Adam Matthews returned from an ankle injury and added a two-run double in the second. Nick Ebert and Jackie Bradley collected two hits apiece in the 11-hit, Game 1 attack.
Whit Merrifield saw his 26-game hit streak come to a halt with a 0-for-5 performance in the opener.
Blake Cooper (3-0) earned the victory with six innings of work. The senior right-hander pitched six innings and allowed two runs on two hits. He struck out six, walked four and hit a batter.
"To start off with, I don't think I had great stuff," Cooper said. "But you have to go out and battle. Luckily I was able to get some ground balls and double plays and let the defense play."
The second game went differently. USC (10-4) trailed 3-0 and 6-2 before the offense came alive.
The Gamecocks' offense bailed starter Sam Dyson out with a seven-run, fourth inning. Dyson's lasted four innings, allowing six runs on seven hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out four.
"He (Dyson) had velocity early and then it dropped off," Tanner said. "It's hard to explain. He had a bad day."
Adam Matthews opened scoring in the fourth with an RBI double, and Robert Beary added an RBI triple. Christian Walker scored Beary with a sacrifice fly.
Adrian Morales followed with a run-scoring single, pinch-hitter Jeffery Jones delivered a two-run double and Ebert finished the outburst with a sacrifice fly.
Jay Brown (1-0) came in after Dyson left after four innings and pitched 4 1/3 innings to earn the victory. The senior right-hander slammed the door on Brown, holding the Bears (1-5) to one run on four hits. He didn't allow a walk and struck out four before giving way to Bangs. Michael Roth forced the final out to earn his second save.
"They were taking some good swings, and the scouting says they are a good offensive team," Brown said. "You have to make your pitches to get them out and if not they are put a good swing on the ball. I went in to try and hold them down as much as I could."
Tanner thought Brown was the difference.
"That was the only chance we had to win that game, was to get a stellar performance out of the bullpen" Tanner said. "Jay was really good. We dug ourselves a hole and we had some innings left, but we were going to have a good performance and Jay Brown stepped up big."
Bradley had to leave the nightcap after his left hand was cut during a steal attempt. He stayed in during the top of the next inning but was replaced by Jones before his next at-bat.
Bradley required two stitches near his thumb and will be out indefinitely, Tanner said.
"It's frustrating, but what are you going to do?" Tanner said. "We can't get the team on the field that we thought would be our team at the beginning of the year."