Down after Friday night’s series-opening loss to Tennessee, the South Carolina baseball team bounced back and showed it’s not yet out.
The Gamecocks can thank their pitching staff.
Junior right-hander Colby Holmes threw seven innings to lead USC to a 6-1 victory against the Volunteers on Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. In the process, the No. 11 Gamecocks (23-9, 5-7 SEC) claimed their second consecutive conference series.
Holmes’ effort followed the one run allowed by Jordan Montgomery and Tyler Webb in Saturday’s win.
“Our starting pitching was really good the last two days,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “Our starters did not issue a walk, so that in itself will give you an opportunity to win if you catch it. We didn’t get a lot of hits, and neither did they, but after you lose a tough Friday night game, it’s very, very difficult to win those Saturday and Sunday games.”
Holmes (4-0), who lowered his ERA to 2.56, allowed four hits and walked none while striking out six. The Volunteers (20-12, 6-6 SEC) scored their only run off him in the seventh on Chris Fritts’ solo homer.
“Colby is a fighter. He’ll battle for you,” Tanner said. “Today, he seemed a lot more comfortable. That was important for us. It was nice to see Colby stretch it out a little bit.”
Holmes admitted to getting a little inspiration from Montgomery’s eight-inning outing, and after not getting past five innings in his past four starts, he was determined to go deeper to give the Gamecocks a chance to win the series.
“Out in the (bull)pen all of my pitches were working, and I just tried to take it out to the mound. Everything kept working for me. My slider was good, and my fastball was down for strikes,” Holmes said. “We kept fighting. That’s what Tanner keeps talking to us about, just keep fighting and don’t give up.”
Tennessee coach Dave Serrano was disappointed in his team’s energy, but he gave Holmes credit for holding the Volunteers in check.
“He threw strikes,” Serrano said. “He was sticking that breaking ball in early in the count, which made us start to guess. And he finished us off when he had count leverage.”
Freshman right-hander Evan Beal threw the final two innings for his team-leading fifth save.
The Gamecocks, who play their next game Tuesday night against The Citadel at Carolina Stadium, broke through with four runs off Tennessee starter Nick Williams (2-3) in the fifth inning to end the scoreless tie.
The outburst was set up by a pair of walks and Williams’ throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, which preceded Tanner English’s bases-loaded walk, Evan Marzilli’s sacrifice fly, Adam Matthews’ bunt single for an RBI and Christian Walker’s run-scoring single.
Matthews, who had two of USC’s six hits, was pleased the Gamecocks scored enough runs to get a cushion on the way to clinching the series.
“We’re happy to finally come through. It’s frustrating at times. This game can be humbling, but we just have to keep battling,” Matthews said. “It’s huge. It helps us with confidence. We just have to continue to come out and get better and take it game by game. That’s a big swing for us to take the Saturday and Sunday games.”
Marzilli’s consecutive-game streak of reaching back ended at 31 games, however, after two strikeouts, a foul popup and the sacrifice fly. The Gamecocks tacked on a pair of runs in the eighth inning to solidify the win and push their way closer to the middle of the SEC standings.
“We knew after the Kentucky weekend (a sweep by the Wildcats), we were playing uphill,” Tanner said. “And we’re still playing uphill. We’ve won the last two series, and that’s encouraging. It’s not going to get any easier, but we’re hanging in there, and some other people are coming back to us as well.”
|Kentucky||9 - 3||.750||30 - 3||.909||22-1||7-2||1-0||W1|
|Florida||7 - 5||.583||25 - 7||.781||18-3||6-4||1-0||L1|
|Tennessee||6 - 6||.500||20 - 12||.625||17-6||2-4||1-2||L2|
|South Carolina||5 - 7||.417||23 - 9||.719||17-4||5-5||1-0||W2|
|Georgia||5 - 7||.417||19 - 13||.594||16-9||2-4||1-0||L2|
|Vanderbilt||4 - 8||.333||13 - 19||.406||12-10||1-9||0-0||L1|
|LSU||8 - 4||.667||25 - 7||.781||20-4||5-3||0-0||W1|
|Arkansas||7 - 5||.583||24 - 7||.774||20-2||2-4||2-1||W2|
|Ole Miss||6 - 6||.500||21 - 10||.677||16-5||5-5||0-0||L1|
|Auburn||6 - 6||.500||17 - 14||.548||13-7||3-7||1-0||L3|
|Mississippi St.||5 - 7||.417||20 - 12||.625||18-6||2-6||0-0||W1|
|Alabama||4 - 8||.333||13 - 19||.406||11-7||2-11||0-1||W3|
|Maddox 2b||4||0||0||0||Marzilli cf||3||0||0||1|
|Luther 3b||3||0||0||0||Mtthews rf||4||0||2||1|
|Carter ph||0||0||0||0||Walker 1b||3||1||1||1|
|Stknrdr dh/p||4||0||1||0||Martin dh||3||0||0||0|
|Morgan 1b||3||0||1||0||Bright ph||1||0||0||0|
|Fritts cf||4||1||1||1||Pnkake ss||2||2||1||1|
|Weaver rf||4||0||0||0||Dantzler 3b||3||1||0||0|
|Pierce lf||2||0||0||0||Rsenbrg c||3||0||2||1|
|Bennett c||3||0||0||0||Vrgason 2b||2||1||0||0|
|Osborne ss||3||0||1||0||English lf||3||1||0||1|
E—Williams (2). DP—S. Carolina 1. LOB—UT 5; S. Carolina 6. 2B—Rosenberg (3). HR—Fritts (2). HBP—Pierce; Walker; Pankake. SH—Dantzler (2); Rosenberg (2). SF—Marzilli (1). SB—Carter (1); Matthews (1). CS—Pankake (2).
|Williams L,2-3||4 2/3||3||4||0||3||3|
WP—Holmes (2). HBP—by Holmes (Pierce); by Williams (Pankake); by Steckenrider (Walker). Umpires—HP: Ray Miller 1B: Scott Erby 3B: Gregory Street. T—2:18. A—6,981.