Evan Marzilli made certain South Carolina’s longest losing streak since 2009 stopped at three.
The junior center fielder was in the middle of every rally with four hits and a walk — including a key three-run homer in the sixth inning — to lead the Gamecocks to a 8-5 victory over Furman on Tuesday night at Fluor Field.
The No. 8 Gamecocks (16-4), who were coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of Kentucky over the weekend, bounced back against the Paladins (11-11), who were unable to repeat their 2011 win against USC in the minor league ballpark of the Greenville Drive, the Single-A Boston Red Sox affiliate.
“It was key to get this first win tonight because we’ve got five games in a row, five days in a row,” Marzilli said. “It was good to get this momentum rolling. Hopefully, we can keep it up.”
USC coach Ray Tanner has come to expect big nights from his leadoff hitter.
“He really has been special for us,” Tanner said. “Evan Marzilli plays the game the right way every single day. Young players should play attention to the way he approaches every single baseball game.”
USC returns to Carolina Stadium against Wofford at 7 p.m. Wednesday. USC women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, whose team plays Stanford in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, will throw out the first pitch. Left-hander Adam Westmoreland will start for the Gamecocks.
Marzilli, who scored four runs in the game and raised his average 30 points to .346, lined a shot down the right-field line off Furman reliever Daniel Stallsmith that wrapped around the foul pole after bunt singles by T.J. Costen and Tanner English opened the sixth inning.
“I thought Marzilli really sat back well and had a lot of patience and was able to get one out of the park,” Furman coach Ron Smith said.
Marzilli’s first homer of the season gave the Gamecocks — and a crowd of 5,965 filled with USC fans — some breathing room and a 6-2 lead.
“I feel pretty good out there, but I do feel like I can improve on some things,” Marzilli said. “Baseball is a game of adjustments. Every game I try to make a different adjustment and get better and better. Tonight I had some production.”
Shortstop Joey Pankake, a freshman from nearby Easley, collected a career-high five hits, including a two-run single in the seventh to up the lead to 8-2, in the season-high 16-hit attack for the Gamecocks.
“I was seeing the ball well and finding the holes. It’s really hard to get five hits in a game, and I’m surprised,” Pankake said. “Lots of friends and family (were in attendance), tons of my real close family came today because they’re all around here, and then a bunch of friends from high school came, too.”
The Paladins cut the lead to 8-5 in their half of the seventh on Will Miller’s three-run homer off reliever Joel Seddon to deep left-center. It was Miller’s sixth home run of the season and third hit on the night.
“Furman has played us really tough over the years,” Tanner said. “The big home run got them back in it. Give them credit. I was glad to get a win tonight. But we need to play a little bit better.”
Right-hander Hunter Privette picked up the first win of his USC career with an inning of scoreless relief. Freshman righty Evan Beal pitched a scoreless ninth by striking out the side for his fourth save. Six USC pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts.
The Paladins threatened in the bottom half of the sixth by loading the bases, but USC reliever Tyler Webb retired pinch-hitter Harrison Farmer on a fly ball to right after a 13-pitch at-bat for the final out.
Furman got a two-run blast over the Green Monster in left from Taylor Johnson in the fourth inning off USC starter Jordan Montgomery that tied the game at 2-2.
“When you strike out 15 times, you’re going to have a lot of trouble scoring many runs. We were fortunate to get the five runs,” Smith said. “I thought we battled pretty well and played pretty solid defense overall. But they’ve got some pretty good arms coming out of their bullpen.”
Before the game, the Greenville County Gamecock Club presented Tanner , who picked up his 1,100th career win in the game, with six seats from the old Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, where the Gamecocks closed out the classic ballpark with their first College World Series championship in 2010.
|Evan Marzilli cf||5||4||4||3||1||0||2||0||1|
|Joey Pankake ss||6||1||5||2||0||0||1||2||2|
|Christian Walker 1b||2||0||1||1||2||0||7||0||1|
|LB Dantzler 3b||5||0||1||0||0||1||1||2||0|
|Grayson Greiner c||3||0||0||0||1||1||8||0||0|
|Chase Vergason 2b||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Erik Payne 2b||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||6|
|Dante Rosenberg c||1||0||0||0||0||0||5||2||0|
|Michael Roth dh||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||2|
|Connor Bright pr/dh||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|TJ Costen lf||5||1||2||0||0||1||1||0||0|
|Tanner English rf||5||1||2||0||0||2||2||0||0|
|Jordan Montgomery p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Hunter Privette p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Tyler Webb p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Joel Seddon p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Forrest Koumas p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Evan Beal p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Will Owens lf||3||1||2||0||2||1||1||0||0|
|Chris Ohmstede dh||5||0||1||0||0||3||0||0||0|
|Will Muzika 2b||4||1||0||0||0||1||1||5||5|
|Will Miller cf||4||2||3||3||0||1||2||0||0|
|Alex Abrams 3b||3||0||0||0||2||3||2||0||0|
|Taylor Johnson rf/1b||5||1||1||2||0||1||6||0||0|
|Paul Nitto 1b/c||4||0||0||0||0||2||9||0||2|
|Hunter Burton ss||2||0||0||0||1||1||1||3||0|
|Zack Greenwell c||2||0||0||0||0||1||5||0||0|
|Harrison Farmer ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Heath Burton rf||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jake Jones ph/rf||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Tyler Wood p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Daniel Stallsmith p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Solter p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Mike Waller p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Elliott Warford p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - Greiner(1); Miller(3); Stallsmith(1). DP - FUR 2. LOB - S. Carolina 12; FUR 10. 2B - Pankake(1); Ohmstede(2). HR - Marzilli(1); Miller(6); Johnson(2). HBP - Muzika; Miller; Hu. Burton. SF - Walker(1). SB - Bright(1); Miller(6).
|Hunter Privette W,1-0||1.0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||3||5||1||2||13|
|Evan Beal S,4||1.0||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||3||3||0||0||14|
|Tyler Wood L,3-2||5.0||7||3||3||4||2||2||1||0||0||20||25||4||8||93|
Win - Privette (1-0). Loss - Wood (3-2). Save - Beal (4). WP - Seddon(1); Wood 2(3); Stallsmith(4); Solter(2). HBP - by Privette (Miller); by Webb (Hu. Burton); by Seddon (Muzika). BK - Wood(2). Pitches/strikes: Montgomery 73/51; Privette 13/6; Webb 29/17; Seddon 7/4; Koumas 39/24; Beal 14/10; Wood 93/50; Stallsmith 23/12; Solter 42/24; Waller 17/10; Warford 18/12.
Umpires - HP: Randy Watkins 1B: Kevin Elzey 3B: Jay Furlong
Start: 7:06 pm
Seddon faced 2 batters in the 7th.