After blowing out the College of Charleston and Rhode Island in midweek games last week, USC no doubt would have loved another breather against The Citadel after coming off a tough SEC series against Florida.
But the Gamecocks couldn’t breathe easy until the final out in a 6-4 victory Wednesday night at Carolina Stadium. Third-ranked South Carolina (19-5) needed to rally from a four-run deficit.
Christian Walker drilled a solo home run into the left-center bullpen with two outs in the seventh off Citadel reliever Logan Cribb (0-1) to break a 4-4 tie.
Walker finished with two hits and four RBIs to up his season totals to five home runs and a team-high 25 RBIs.
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Walker credited The Citadel (10-15), which reached the NCAA tournament last season, for giving the Gamecocks all they could handle.
“They’re pretty determined. They’re a scrappy team,” Walker said.
“They got base hits when they needed them. They aren’t afraid to go the other way. They’re a tough team to play. You really can’t take anything for granted. We made the right adjustments at the right time, and it worked out for us.”
Senior right-hander John Taylor (2-0) picked up the win with two innings of scoreless relief. He followed Jose Mata’s three scoreless innings. Closer Matt Price struck out two in the final inning for his sixth save. The three combined to give up just one single and one walk over six innings.
“That was the key to the game, the fact that we were able to hold them and keep them at bay with Mata and Taylor and Matt,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “We had a chance to come back. They were outstanding once again.”
USC climbed back in the game with a four-run outburst in the fifth off Citadel right-hander Bryce Hines, who threw four shutout innings to start the game.
“We scuffled early because of Hines,” Tanner said. “I don’t know if you recognized it, but he has a big-league breaking pitch. It’s very special. You’re going to hear his name a lot down the road.”
Hines finally gave up an infield hit and three walks, the final one to Jackie Bradley to force in a run, before Walker hit a slicing double into the right-field corner to clear the bases for a 4-4 tie.
“Walker’s ball in the corner was huge for us. That got us right back in the thick of it,” Tanner said.
Walker was concerned that it might get caught by right fielder Matt Simonelli until he saw the late flight of the ball.
“It didn’t have too much tail on it the first half it was in the air. Right before it hit the ground, it kind of bit towards the line,” Walker said.
The Bulldogs built their lead to 4-0 in the fourth with Nick Orvin’s two-out, two-run single. All four runs belonged to USC starter Adam Westmoreland, who struggled for his fourth consecutive outing. The sophomore left-hander allowed six hits, one walk and hit a batter before leaving in the fourth without recording an out. His ERA rose to 6.05.
“I don’t consider it a quality outing. He’s better than that,” Tanner said. “He’s hit a little bit of a slump.”
That also means Tanner continues to look for weekend starters. Left-hander Steven Neff is expected to miss the Kentucky series due to bicep soreness — “It looks like he’ll continue to be out,” Tanner said — and Forrest Koumas remains questionable after spending several days in the hospital due to a food allergy. He is expected to be ready but Tanner isn’t sure for how long and in what role.
The Gamecocks play host to Kentucky for a three-game SEC series at Carolina Stadium this weekend. Junior left-hander Michael Roth (5-1) will start Friday’s at 7 p.m.
|Nick Orvin 2b||5||0||1||2||0||1||2||2||1|
|Drew DeKerlegand 3b||3||1||1||0||1||0||2||4||1|
|Matt Simonelli rf||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||0||0|
|William Ladd lf||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||1|
|Joe Jackson dh||4||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||1|
|Justin Mackert 1b||4||2||2||0||0||1||7||0||0|
|Brad Felder cf||3||1||0||0||0||1||3||0||0|
|Legare Jones ss||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||0|
|Josh Pless ph||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Grant Richards c||3||0||1||1||0||1||7||0||1|
|Tyler Griffin ph||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Bryce Hines p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Logan Cribb p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Drew Mahaffey p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||3||1||1||0||2||2||2||3||1|
|Evan Marzilli rf||4||1||0||0||1||1||2||0||0|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||4||1||0||1||1||2||2||1||3|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||1||2||4||0||0||9||0||3|
|Adrian Morales 3b||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||0|
|Jake Williams dh||2||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Brady Thomas c||3||0||0||0||0||1||7||0||0|
|Robert Beary lf||3||0||1||0||1||0||2||0||1|
|Scott Wingo 2b||3||1||2||1||1||0||1||5||0|
|Adam Westmoreland p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Jose Mata 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|
E - DeKerlegand(9); Wingo(3). LOB - CIT 6; S. Carolina 9. 2B - Richards(4); Walker(8). HR - Walker(5). HBP - Felder; Williams. SH - Jones(4); Thomas(2). SB - Mackert(6); Wingo(2).
|Logan Cribb L,0-1||2.2||2||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||10||10||3||4||36|
|John Taylor W,2-0||2.0||0||0||0||1||3||0||0||0||0||6||7||2||1||35|
|Matt Price S,6||1.0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||3||3||0||1||11|
Win - Taylor (2-0). Loss - Cribb (0-1). Save - Price (6). HBP - by Westmoreland (Felder); by Mahaffey (Williams). PB - Richards 2(5). Pitches/strikes: B Hines 96/48; Cribb 36/22; Mahaffey 19/12; Westmoreland 66/37; Mata 40/26; Taylor 35/21; Price 11/7.
Umpires - HP: Ben Sass 1B: Richie Tallent 3B: Joe Marion
Start: 7:01 pm
Westmoreland faced 2 batters in the 4th.