South Carolina came into Saturday's contest with Cal State Bakersfield with 41 extra base hits in 11 games.
After a nine-hit performance against the Roadrunners, that number is the same but the Gamecocks had enough offense to back the pitching of Steven Neff and four relievers to claim a 5-2 victory and win their fourth consecutive series to open the season.
Four USC players drove in runs and seven collected at least one hit in the small-ball display in front of 7,013 fans at Carolina Stadium.
USC coach Ray Tanner credited CSUB starting pitcher Jonathan Montoya for the Gamecocks' lack of offensive fireworks.
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Montoya, a lefthander with a high leg kick and jerky motion, kept the Gamecocks off balance. He routinely changed his delivery motion as well.
"He's a guy that is hard to square up," Tanner said of Montoya. "I know it wasn't his best game because he had too many walks but talking to coach (Bill) Kernen after the game, he is one of those pitchers that doesn't give you much. I don't think it was a poor day for us offensively. I think you have to give Montoya credit for not allowing us to have that big inning."
Cal State Bakersfield (11-5) got on the board first with an RBI single from Martin Medina in the fourth inning. He roped a single to left field with two outs but he was caught in a rundown when he ventured too far off first base on the throw home to catcher Robert Beary.
South Carolina (11-1) then used a four-hit inning to jump to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the frame.
Jake Williams and Beary opened with singles but Peter Monney's sacrifice attempt forced Williams out at third. Williams and Beary were the only two USC players with multiple hits.
After a groundout forced Mooney at second, Evan Marzilli delivered a RBI single to score Beary. Wingo scored on a wild pitch before Jackie Bradley delivered a run-scoring single between first and second.
Bradley realized the Gamecocks never delivered any big blows but it was enough to back the pitching staff.
"We had to grind it out to be able to get it done," Bradley said. "Pitching once again gave us a chance to win, limiting runners on base (and) scoring opportunities. We were able to capitalize when we needed to."
South Carolina added two insurance runs in the fifth on run-scoring singles by Mooney and Wingo to back the pitching off Neff.
The junior lefthander made his second start of the season and is making a case to be involved in the weekend rotation. He allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two, didn't allow a walk but hit two batters in the longest stint of his career.
"I was extremely happy with Neff's outing," Tanner said. "I thought he had good stuff. We played great defense behind him so he only gave up four hits. We made a couple of nice plays defensively to keep them from getting anything going offensively."
In his two starts this season, Neff has pitched 9 1/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.
He believes he's done enough to be in the discussion for the weekend rotation.
"Coach Tanner knows what I can do," Neff said. "He knows I'm a good pitcher, but it's their decision. They've been changing the rotation up so it definitely helped for me to make my case for the weekend. We have a great pitching staff. We have five starters that can get the job done. I'd like to start and stay in the rotation."
Four relievers backed the effort of Neff, allowing one run on three hits in 3 2/3 innings.
"We did some good things out of the bullpen to put us in position to win the game," Tanner said.
The two teams will conclude the series Sunday at 1:30 p.m. South Carolina will go with Tyler Webb (2-0, 1.10) on the hill against CSUB's Tommy Hoenshell (2-2, 2.05).
Ray Tanner postgame
Jackie Bradley Jr. postgame
Steven Neff postgame
Robert Beary postgame
Evan Marzilli postgame
|Letourneau, Andrew cf||4||1||1||0||0||0||3||0||0|
|Sanay, Oscar 2b||3||0||1||0||0||1||4||1||0|
|Rodriguez, Jeremy c||4||0||1||1||0||1||5||1||1|
|Medina, Martin dh||4||0||1||1||0||2||0||0||1|
|McIntyre, Ryan rf||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0|
|Brockmeyer, Cael 1b||4||0||1||0||0||1||4||2||0|
|Legg, DC 3b||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||2||0|
|Younger, Kevin lf||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||3|
|Shryock, Tyler ss||2||1||0||0||1||0||4||3||0|
|Montoya, Jonathan p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0|
|Messmore, Spenser p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|Evan Marzilli lf||5||1||1||1||0||1||3||1||0|
|Adam Matthews rf||3||0||1||0||2||1||0||0||2|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||3||0||1||1||2||1||0||0||0|
|Christian Walker 1b||3||0||0||0||1||1||13||1||2|
|Adrian Morales 3b||2||1||0||0||2||0||0||2||4|
|Jake Williams dh||3||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|DeSean Anderson pr||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Robert Beary c||2||2||2||0||1||0||6||1||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||1||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||4||1||1||1||0||1||3||8||2|
|Steven Neff p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|Bryan Harper p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Logan Munson p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Price p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - Walker(3). DP - CSUB 1; S. Carolina 3. LOB - CSUB 5; S. Carolina 10. HBP - McIntyre; Legg. SH - Sanay(3); Williams(1); Beary(1). SB - Marzilli(2); Morales(1); Mooney(1). CS - Matthews(2); Morales(2).
|Montoya, Jonathan L,2-1||5.0||8||5||5||7||3||1||0||0||0||22||30||4||7||116|
|Steven Neff W,2-0||5.1||4||1||1||0||2||0||0||2||0||17||20||3||8||67|
|Matt Price S,5||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||2||2||0||1||9|
Win - Neff (2-0). Loss - Montoya (2-1). Save - Price (5). WP - Montoya(1). HBP - by Neff (McIntyre); by Neff (Legg). Pitches/strikes: Montoya 116/60; Messmore 34/20; Neff 67/43; Harper 28/17; Taylor 12/8; Munson 5/3; Price 9/5.
Umpires - HP: Jamie Roebuck 1B: Gary Pillars 3B: Clint Lawson
Start: 4:01 pm
Montoya faced 1 batter in the 6th.
Harper faced 1 batter in the 8th.