As the falling anvil crept ever closer, the South Carolina baseball team only could look up helplessly when it finally landed with a thud.
The Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield then raced by the Gamecocks with a merry “beep, beep” on the way to an 8-3 victory in Sunday’s finale of the three-game series at Carolina Stadium, the first loss for USC in 11 home games this season.
CSUB junior right-hander Tommy Hoenshell handcuffed the fourth-ranked Gamecocks (11-2) with eight strong innings. Hoenshell (3-2), who defeated No. 9 Arizona State 2-1 this season, scattered eight hits and walked two while striking out one.
“He did a good job of getting us to just miss some balls,” USC outfielder Jake Williams said. “He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes. He was doing enough to keep us off-balance.”
USC first baseman Christian Walker, who had a pair of doubles, chalked up the loss to running into a pitcher with good command and mound presence.
“It was just one of those days,” Walker said. “We had a couple of hits here and there, but they weren’t all together in the same inning.”
The Roadrunners (12-5), an independent playing their third season, used 10 hits, five walks, two hit batsmen and one USC error to cruise to the victory.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen with the results when we came in here, but we felt like, win or lose, we wanted to have this experience against the best team in the country,” CSUB coach Bill Kernen said. “It’s such a great program that coach (Ray) Tanner runs here. If we could just survive, we felt like that was an accomplishment. To actually come out winning one and being competitive in the other two, we feel like it’s a milestone for our program right now.”
Tanner gave a nod to the Roadrunners for the way they challenged the defending national champions.
“Bakersfield has a really nice club,” Tanner said. “They capitalized on some opportunities. And they had a guy on the mound who knows how to pitch.”
USC pitchers struggled with the exception of reliever Jose Mata, who retired eight straight in his stint. CSUB knocked starter Tyler Webb (2-1) out in the third inning while taking a 5-1 lead. Webb left with the bases loaded after giving up a pair of walks and a single. Reliever Forrest Koumas allowed a sacrifice fly to DC Legg and a two-run single to Travis Shryock sandwiched around an error by shortstop Peter Mooney.
Webb, who also struggled in last weekend’s start against Clemson, allowed three hits, four walks and hit a batter in 21/3 innings.
“I didn’t throw enough strikes,” Webb said.
Tanner thought Webb had his best fastball of the season, but his big left-hander couldn’t hit his spots.
“At the end of the day, he wasn’t sharp,” Tanner said. :He’s got to do a better job than that.”
Koumas gave up two more runs in the sixth, on Martin Medina’s RBI double and Ryan McIntyre’s RBI single as CSUB increased its lead to 7-1. USC cut the lead to 7-3 in the eighth inning on Williams’ leadoff triple, Jackie Bradley’s sacrifice fly, Walker’s double and Adrian Morales’ RBI single. But the threat ended when Brady Thomas lined into a double play.
USC won all four of its nonconference weekend series, sweeping Santa Clara and Southern Illinois while taking two of three from Clemson and CSUB. The Gamecocks open SEC play against Georgia next weekend.
“We didn’t sweep like we wanted to today, but we won the series, and we’re going to take any momentum we can into Georgia,” Walker said.
The Gamecocks return to Fluor Field in Greenville on Tuesday to play Furman at 7 p.m. They defeated the Paladins 14-1 at Carolina Stadium two weeks ago. Left-hander Adam Westmoreland (0-0, 2.93 ERA) is the probable starter for USC.
Ray Tanner postgame
Tyler Webb, Jake Williams postgame
Christian Walker, Jose Mata postgame
|Letourneau, Andrew cf||5||0||2||1||0||1||3||0||1|
|Sanay, Oscar 2b||5||1||1||0||0||1||3||5||2|
|Rodriguez, Jeremy c||4||1||0||0||1||1||2||0||0|
|Medina, Martin dh/p||4||2||2||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|McIntyre, Ryan rf||5||1||2||1||0||2||7||0||2|
|Brockmeyer, Cael 1b||4||1||1||0||1||1||8||0||1|
|Legg, DC 3b||2||0||0||1||1||0||0||1||0|
|Younger, Kevin lf||4||2||1||1||0||1||3||0||0|
|Shryock, Tyler ss||4||0||1||2||1||1||1||0||4|
|Hoenshell, Tommy p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||4||0|
|Evan Marzilli ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Jake Williams lf||4||1||1||0||0||1||2||0||1|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||3||0||1||1||0||0||2||0||1|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||2||2||0||0||0||10||0||0|
|Adrian Morales 3b||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||3||0|
|Brady Thomas c||4||0||1||0||0||0||8||0||0|
|Adam Matthews rf||4||0||1||1||0||1||1||0||3|
|Michael Roth dh||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Scott Wingo 2b||3||0||0||0||1||0||3||1||0|
|Tyler Webb p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Forrest Koumas p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jose Mata p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Logan Munson p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - Mooney(5). DP - CSUB 1. LOB - CSUB 10; S. Carolina 7. 2B - Medina(4); Walker 2(6). 3B - Williams(2). HBP - Legg; Younger. SF - Legg(1); Bradley Jr.(1).
|Hoenshell, Tommy W,3-2||8.0||8||3||3||2||1||1||0||0||0||30||33||16||6||115|
|Tyler Webb L,2-1||2.1||3||4||2||4||2||0||0||1||0||10||15||2||3||74|
Win - Hoenshell (3-2). Loss - Webb (2-1). Save - None. WP - Hoenshell(1); Koumas(1). HBP - by Webb (Younger); by Munson (Legg). Pitches/strikes: Hoenshell 115/68; Medina 17/10; Webb 74/39; Koumas 57/39; Mata 28/17; Munson 15/9.
Umpires - HP: Clint Lawson 1B: David Brown 3B: Jamie Roebuck
Start: 1:31 pm