Tyler Webb rewarded the South Carolina coaches’ faith in him with a sterling performance Saturday in the Gamecocks’ 2-1 victory against Santa Clara in front of the second consecutive sellout at Carolina Stadium.
After a shaky beginning, the sophomore lefthander settled down and pitched six solid innings to keep USC close until the offense could find a way to scratch across two runs in the middle innings.
“He got behind in the count but improved as we got deeper into the game, which I thought made a difference,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “That gave him an opportunity to stay out there. He had 12 in a row at one point so he settled in good.”
Webb gave up a run in the first when Matt Ozanne led off with a single. He advanced to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a sacrifice and scored on a groundout by Curtis Wagner.
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The lanky left-hander walked the leadoff batter in each of the next two innings but pitched out of it both times. He induced a ground ball double play in the second before allowing the next two hitters to reach with singles. He then got out of the jam with a liner to Scott Wingo at second.
In the third inning, Ozanne walked and was sacrificed to second. Webb then struck out the next two batters to end the inning to strand the runner at third after balking him over.
From that point, he was unhittable. He retired the final 12 batters he faced before leaving in favor of Bryan Harper to begin the seventh inning. Webb pitched six innings and allowed the unearned run on three hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
“I struggled early to find the strike zone,” Webb said. “In the later innings, I felt like I settled in. I got more comfortable on the mound and was able to throw strikes. Early, I was trying to make the perfect pitch to every batter.
“After the third, I decided I was going to pump the strike zone with my fastball and rely on my off-speed (pitches).”
Harper pitched 1 2/3 innings without allowing a run. Matt Price, one of the heroes of last year’s College World Series triumph, pitched the final 1 1/3 to record his first save of the season. The Broncos had the tying run on second with two outs when Mooney fielded a grounder going towards third base and fired across the diamond to end the game.
“Mooney can make the routine play but he can go make a play going to his left or right that is sometimes an infield hit,” Tanner said. “When that ball was hit, I almost wanted to hold it with the guy at second. The good players make that play.”
After tying the game in the fifth, South Carolina (2-0) pushed across the winning run in the sixth. Christian Walker and Brady Thomas singled with one out to put runners on the corners for Adrian Morales. His long sacrifice fly to left easily scored Walker.
The Gamecocks needed the effort of Webb because of a subpar performance against Santa Clara starter Cory Hall. The senior right-hander handcuffed USC on eight hits in seven innings, but it was a couple of base running blunders that cost South Carolina early.
Adam Matthews was caught stealing to end the first inning. In the second, Christian Walker walked to lead off but he was caught stealing when Hall threw to first as he broke for second. Thomas followed with another base on balls but he was nailed by catcher Zach Looney when he ventured too far off first.
Morales was caught stealing in the eighth, as well.
“We had five or six situations I wish we wouldn’t have made,” Tanner said. “It was mental mistakes is the way I look at it, not so much physical but we were able to win.”
South Carolina got its first runner in scoring position in the fifth inning. Morales was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on Evan Marzilli’s sacrifice. Dante Rosenburg collected his first hit and RBI when his single to left scored Morales. The throw beat Morales to the plate but he was able to slide safely around the tag.
“I have to thank Wingo for that,” Morales said. “He guided me towards where to go and he let me know to slide towards the outside of the bag and I was able to sneak in there.”
Next: South Carolina goes for the series sweep at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Adam Westmoreland will take the hill for the Gamecocks.
Ray Tanner postgame
|OZANNE M cf||3||1||1||0||1||0||1||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||3||0|
|Adam Matthews rf||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||0||2|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||0||2|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||1||2||0||0||1||11||1||0|
|Brady Thomas dh||2||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||1|
|Adrian Morales 3b||2||1||1||1||0||0||0||1||0|
|Evan Marzilli lf||2||0||0||0||0||2||3||0||2|
|Dante Rosenberg c||2||0||1||1||0||0||4||1||0|
|Jake Williams ph||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Robert Beary c||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||1||0||0||0||1||0||4||5||0|
|Tyler Webb p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0|
|Bryan Harper p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Price p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
DP - S. Carolina 1. LOB - SCU 7; S. Carolina 7. HBP - DeMERRITT; Morales; Williams. SH - VIELE 2(2); Marzilli(2); Wingo(1). SF - Morales(1). CS - Matthews(1); Walker(1); Morales(1).
|Tyler Webb W,1-0||6.0||3||1||0||2||4||0||1||0||0||18||22||4||9||78|
|Matt Price S,1||1.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||4||5||2||2||12|
Win - Webb (1-0). Loss - HALL (0-1). Save - Price (1). WP - HALL. HBP - by HALL (Morales); by HALL (Williams); by Price (DeMERRITT). BK - Webb. PB - LOONEY; Rosenberg. Pitches/strikes: HALL 113/72; FANSLER 16/7; Webb 78/50; Harper 29/16; Price 12/7.
Umpires - HP: Randy Hoback 1B: Barry Chambers 2B: Mike Guerry 3B: Richie
Start: 3:01 pm Time: 2:31