The string of impressive pitching performances by the South Carolina staff continued Tuesday night in a 10-0 victory against Ball State at rainy Carolina Stadium.
Freshman Jack Wynkoop made his second consecutive impressive midweek start, and three relievers combined for the Gameocks’ third shutout in the past four games. It was the first back-to-back shutouts since May 9 and 11 of last year, when USC blanked Furman and Georgia in consecutive games.
Wynkoop (2-0) got the ball rolling by retiring the first 16 batters he faced before the perfect game was broken up by a one-out single in the sixth inning. He was able to finish the inning and departed after throwing 73 pitches — 51 for strikes. He ended with five strikeouts and no walks.
“I felt good. My mindset was to go out there and throw strikes to get ground balls,” Wynkoop said. “There is pressure because there are so many good arms around you. I think it’s good because we have so many good arms on the staff. We take pride as a staff.”
In his past two outings, Wynkoop has pitched 11 1/3 innings and allowed no runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Vince Fiori and Joel Seddon each pitched a perfect inning before Forrest Koumas closed it out in the ninth.
Having this hot streak by the pitching staff early in the season has been a bonus, according to coach Chad Holbrook.
“You can’t ask your pitching staff time and time again to throw shutouts,” Holbrook said. “Any time you get a shutout, it’s a surprise. I don’t think we have dominant stuff from first or second round guys but we have guys that know how to pitch, change speeds and throw strikes. We’ve shown that works too. It’s pretty fun to watch.”
Any concern of a letdown after the emotional Clemson series was wiped away early with the offense and strong pitching by Wynkoop.
Ball State (5-5) helped matters by issuing 10 walks, four wild pitches and two hit batters. The Gamecocks (9-2) did banged out 14 hits and scored in a number of ways. Tanner English and Graham Saiko, who had three hits, delivered RBI singles in the second inning. English eventually scored on a passed ball to make it 3-0 after two innings.
Dante Rosenberg added an RBI groundout in the third after LB Dantzler was hit by a pitch and Max Schrock singled to open the inning. Connor Bright, who was making his second consecutive start in right field, sacrifice the runners over for Rosenberg.
Joey Pankake made it 7-0 in the fourth when he connected on his first home run of the season, a three-run shot that landed on the concourse above the Ball State bullpen.
Rosenberg added his second RBI of the game with an infield single in the sixth that scored Pankake. Brison Celek delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh and English added his second RBI in the eighth to round out the scoring.
“We had some good at-bats and we pitched incredibly well again,” Holbrook said. “Wynkoop was very impressive. I was concerned if we would have energy today and if we would come ready to play. We’ve got some older guys. They came ready to play, so that was good to see.”
South Carolina and Ball State will complete the two-game series Wednesday at 4 p.m. Curt Britt is the probable starter for the Gamecocks.