Standing in the on-deck circle with a tie game in the ninth inning, Scott Wingo let his mind linger to Friday night when his drive to deep right-center field was caught against the wall to end South Carolina’s rally attempt in the series opener with Georgia.
He was up again Saturday with two outs and the winning run on third when the senior left-hander hit a grounder between first and second. Georgia first baseman Jonathan Hester made a diving stop, but Wingo beat pitcher Patrick Boling to the bag to allow Adrian Morales to score as the Gamecocks won, 2-1.
“I did (think about it) a little bit,” Wingo said of being in almost the same situation on consecutive days. “I was glad to get another chance at it. I have complete confidence in (Peter) Mooney but I said if he didn’t do it, I was going to try and do it.”
Morales, who went 3-for-4, led off the ninth with a single. Jake Williams tried to sacrifice him to second but was unable to get the bunt down before singling to center with two strikes. Evan Marzilli then sacrificed Morales to third.
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Morales thought for sure Boling would try to get the out at third.
“He had me at third,” Morales said, “but he went to first so that was a break for us.”
Peter Mooney grounded out to first before Wingo delivered.
South Carolina coach Ray Tanner felt like it was a much-needed victory for the Gamecocks (13-4, 1-1 SEC). After scoring two runs in the series opener, Georgia starter Michael Palazzone held USC scoreless for seven innings.
“It’s W-H-E-W,” Tanner said. “For two days, we’ve had stellar pitching on our side (and) had chances to win,” Tanner said. “It was a great win for us.”
USC scratched a run across in the eighth inning to break Palazzone’ scoreless streak at 14 innings. Adam Matthews had a two-out triple to right-center before Christian Walker doubled down the left-field line to score Matthews.
Matt Price pitched out of a jam in the ninth inning to earn the victory. The sophomore closer allowed singles to Levi Hyams and Chase Davidson but got out of the two-on, one-out situation when he struck out Kyle Farmer looking and induced Hester to ground to Morales at third.
South Carolina starter Steven Neff nearly matched Palazzone. The junior left-hander pitched a career-high seven innings and allowed one run on three hits. He struck out four, walked one and hit a batter.
Georgia’s run came in the third. Joey Delmonico opened the frame by drawing a walk from Neff, who then hit No. 9 hitter Peter Verdin. Curt Powell sacrificed the runners over and Levi Hyams’ grounder to short scored Delmonico.
“We got a great start from Neff,” Tanner said. “The only run they got was an inning where they didn’t get any hits.”
Neff threw 88 pitches and was pleased with his performance. He was aided by a defense that played errorless ball after committing five on Friday night.
“All I needed to do was throw strikes and let defense play behind me,” Neff said. “Knowing that if I go out and throw strikes and pitch my game then my defense will make plays behind me.”
The teams finish the series Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
South Carolina has not decided on a starter among Adam Westmoreland, Forrest Koumas or Tyler Webb. Georgia (10-9, 1-1) will counter with junior left-hander Craig Gullickson (1-1, 4.50 ERA).
Ray Tanner postgame
Scott Wingo, Steven Neff postgame
Christian Walker, Adrian Morales postgame
|Curt Powell 3b||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||1||0|
|Levi Hyams 2b||4||0||1||1||0||0||3||1||0|
|Zach Cone cf||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||1||1|
|Chase Davidson rf||4||0||2||0||0||1||4||0||1|
|Kyle Farmer ss||3||0||1||0||0||2||1||0||0|
|Jonathan Hester 1b||4||0||0||0||0||0||7||0||2|
|Brett DeLoach dh||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||1|
|Joey Delmonico c||2||1||0||0||1||0||4||0||0|
|Brandon Stephens c||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0||0|
|Peter Verdin lf||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||0||0|
|Michael Palazzone p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0|
|Patrick Boling p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||0||0|
|Adam Matthews rf||4||1||2||0||0||1||1||0||2|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||0||1||1||0||1||10||0||0|
|Brady Thomas c||4||0||1||0||0||2||7||0||2|
|Adrian Morales 3b||4||1||3||0||0||0||1||2||0|
|Jake Williams dh||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||1|
|Evan Marzilli lf||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||6||1|
|Scott Wingo 2b||3||0||1||1||0||1||2||2||0|
|Steven Neff p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Price p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Note: 2 outs, 2 runners LOB when the game ended.
E - Delmonico(3). DP - S. Carolina 1. LOB - UGA 5; S. Carolina 8. 2B - Walker(7). 3B - Matthews(1). HBP - Verdin; Bradley Jr.. SH - Powell(3); Farmer(1); Marzilli(5); Wingo(3). SB - Matthews(4).
|Patrick Boling L,0-1||1.0||3||1||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||5||6||0||2||28|
|Matt Price W,1-1||1.0||2||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||5||5||0||1||14|
Win - Price (1-1). Loss - Boling (0-1). Save - None. HBP - by Neff (Verdin); by Palazzone (Bradley Jr.). BK - Boling(1). Pitches/strikes: Palazzone 105/74; Boling 28/17; Neff 88/55; Taylor 9/7; Price 14/12.
Umpires - HP: Keith Sanders 1B: Tony Walsh 3B: Scott Kennedy
Start: 4:00 pm