One more season, one more win over Charleston Southern.
With a 9-5 victory Tuesday night at Carolina Stadium, the South Carolina baseball won for the 70th time in 81 games against the Buccaneers, who have not defeated the Gamecocks since 2003. The teams first began playing in 1972, when Charleston Southern was known as Baptist College.
The No. 15 Gamecocks (23-6), who have won five straight games since being swept by Arkansas, travel to play Furman (16-11) at Fluor Field, home of the Single-A Greenville Drive, at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Right-hander Joel Seddon (1-0) is the probable starter.
“I’m proud of the team for handling adversity, both from an injury standpoint and after what happened against Arkansas,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “We’ve put ourselves in a decent position for the last half of the year and had to manage a lot of different things. We played again tonight without a starter (center fielder Tanner English), and we’re getting used to that. But we try to win anyway around here.”
South Carolina gave English the night off to rest his sore right shoulder. He’s not expected to play against the Paladins on Wednesday so he can be closer to full strength for the Tennessee series.
Max Schrock led the 12-hit attack with three hits, a pair of singles and a triple, to break out of an extended slump, while Grayson Greiner collected a pair of RBI singles. Graham Saiko also had two hits, an RBI infield single and a double, his first extra-base hit of the season. LB Dantzler slugged his team-leading 10th homer, a solo shot in the eighth.
Greiner said the Gamecocks have bounced back because of their focus.
“We don’t try to look ahead or look in the past,” Greiner said. “This team always has got a confident mindset going into each game.”
After the Bucs cut the lead to 4-2 in the fourth, T.J. Costen, English’s replacement, drilled a two-run homer into the left-field bullpen. It was Costen’s first homer of the season.
USC jumped out to a 4-0 lead off CSU starter Stephen Leopard (1-2) in the second inning with four hits. Greiner and Saiko had RBI singles, while Chase Vergason added a sacrifice fly.
Senior right-hander Colby Holmes (3-2) wasn’t as sharp as his previous midweek start, as he gave up a pair of runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings. Vince Fiori pitched well in relief, allowing one run in 32/3 innings on a ninth-inning homer by Drew Woodall. It was the longest stint of the season — 57 pitches — for the situational left-hander who usually faces a couple of left-handed hitters.
“I got ahead of hitters, and I was just trying to throw strikes,” Fiori said. “I still felt fresh, although I hadn’t thrown that many pitches in an outing yet. I was still throwing strikes. He (Woodall) just got a hold of it.”
Holbrook was pleased by Fiori’s effort out of the bullpen, especially with the Gamecocks playing five games this week and needing to conserve their arms.
“His performance enabled us to win the game,” Holbrook said. “Vince really, really gave us an opportunity and a chance to stay ahead and win the game.”
The Bucs (11-17) battled throughout the game, outhitting USC 13-12, but they couldn’t push across enough runs against four Gamecock pitchers as they left the bases loaded in the fifth and the ninth innings. The game ended on a bang-bang play at first base that stopped the late rally.
“They took some really good swings,” Greiner said. “They barreled up a lot of balls off some good arms.”
Note: Left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who has not pitched in a month due to an arm injury, threw a pain-free bullpen Tuesday, which encouraged Holbrook. If Montgomery doesn’t experience any soreness the next few days, he’s a candidate to start Sunday against Tennessee. Holbrook said left-hander Nolan Belcher will start Friday and right-hander Evan Beal will start Saturday against the Volunteers.