After suffering its first SEC series loss over the past weekend, South Carolina tuned up for its next conference showdown with two rounds of midweek batting practice.
The Gamecocks pounded Charleston Southern 10-2 Wednesday night at Carolina Stadium, one night after hammering another instate foe in Wofford. The 16 hits, which included four home runs and three doubles, were two more than USC collected in its 17-4 victory against the Terriers on Tuesday.
Eighth-ranked USC, which is tied for first with Eastern Division rival Florida for the overall SEC lead, improved to 38-11 heading into an important road series against No. 12 Arkansas, the SEC West leader. The Gamecocks rediscovered their rhythm at the plate after getting only 10 hits combined in the two losses to Kentucky.
"It's huge," said Parker Bangs of the midweek resurgence. "It's a big confidence booster. Hopefully, we can carry it on to Arkansas."
The Gamecocks put the game away early with seven runs off CSU left-hander Charlie McCready (0-6), who gave up nine hits in 2 1/3 innings. Adam Matthews, Bobby Haney, Christian Walker and Nick Ebert all went deep off McCready. The two-run homer for Ebert, who also hit a grand slam against Wofford, ended McCready's night.
Ebert liked having two midweek games coming off the Kentucky series.
"It was the perfect time for it," Ebert said. "We were struggling a little bit, and we got the bats going."
USC coach Ray Tanner also liked his team's approach.
"We tried to be more aggressive coming out," Tanner said. "We needed to be more aggressive, and we got our share of hits."
In the process, USC ran its midweek record to a perfect 13-0. Tanner credited his players for putting an emphasis on not losing midweek games.
"They all count. The nonconference games count," Tanner said. "We've done a good job of playing all these games like they're weekend games."
Matthews, who led the offense with three hits, agreed the players have come to understand the importance of not slipping up against the teams they are supposed to beat.
"Last year we lost a couple of games to The Citadel and one to Wofford. We know these games can count back to haunt you when it comes to (NCAA) regionals."
The Gamecocks did not earn a host bid last season and had to travel to East Carolina, where they lost in the regional championship.
South Carolina used seven pitchers, who combined to toss a five-hitter. CSU's only runs scored on four walks by reliever Colby Holmes in the seventh and a solo homer by Matt Still off Patrick Sullivan in the eighth.
USC starter Tyler Webb threw four scoreless innings but was one inning shy of qualifying for the victory. Jose Mata (6-1), who pitched one inning in relief, claimed the win over the Bucs (17-31) of the Big South.
Webb enjoyed seeing the run support early.
"It helps your confidence when the team is hitting good," he said.
Confidence is what the Gamecocks needed after that first SEC series loss.