South Carolina collected only 14 hits on the weekend, but that proved to be good enough to sweep Miami (Ohio) in the three-game series.
The No. 12 Gamecocks closed things out with a 5-3 victory Sunday at Carolina Stadium despite just four hits on the game. But they received plenty of help with seven walks from Miami pitchers.
USC won 2-0 Friday on four hits and 7-0 Saturday on six hits. That has coach Chad Holbrook somewhat concerned about his offense, which is hitting just .268 with only two games before SEC play begins.
"We were lucky to win three games. I'm sitting up here saying we won anyway despite the lack of production from really anybody offensively," Holbrook said. "We pitched and played defense Friday and Saturday, we didn't play much defense today (with three errors). But we did enough. We'll take it and move on and try to get better. I've got some guys that can hit, but we've got to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get the bat whistling through the strike zone."
Junior left-hander Vince Fiori pitched 3 1/3 solid innings to get the win in relief of freshman right-hander Clarke Schmidt, who made his first career start. Sophomore right-hander Taylor Widener tossed a perfect ninth to grab his fifth save.
"All three games we were able to win them because of the way our pitchers threw," Holbrook said. "Clarke got us off to a good start today, Vince was pretty clean there, and Taylor showed what kind of arm he has at the end of the game."
The Gamecocks (12-3) are back at Carolina Stadium Tuesday at 7 p.m. to start a two-game series against Penn State (1-8).
Fiori (2-0), who lowered his ERA to 0.69 in eight appearances, has the ability to get outs in tough situations, as he proved when he entered the game against the RedHawks (2-8) with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Although a two-out error by second baseman Max Schrock allowed the first run and a wild pitch scored the second run, Fiori settled in over the next three innings.
"I'm always ready for an extended outing," he said. "What I was thinking when I came in with the bases loaded was throw strikes, keep it down and try to let the infield do their job."
Holbrook called Fiori almost too valuable to start because he can affect more than one game a week by pitching out of the bullpen.
"His last three or four outings have been very, very good," Holbrook said. "His command has actually gotten better. He has been a big shot in the arm for us."
The Gamecocks scored three runs in the fifth inning on one hit and five walks, and they added two more in the seventh on two hits, a walk, a balk and a sacrifice fly. Not one run scored on an RBI base hit.
But Fiori wasn't going to complain about the lack of any breakout offense, especially after claiming the series sweep.
"The offense has scored enough runs for us to win the games. That's really all that matters when it comes down to it," Fiori said. "We'll do our best as pitchers to keep us in the game no matter how our offense is doing."
More significantly, the Gamecocks have won five in a row since dropping the rivalry series to Clemson, which included a shutout loss in the rubber game, a week ago. Kentucky comes to town this coming weekend to start the conference schedule.
"It was really important for us to get these wins under our belt, especially with the quality opponents that are going to come in this weekend and through SEC play. Five straight wins is big," Fiori said.
Miami coach Danny Hayden came away impressed by what he saw from the Gamecocks.
"Their arms are great, and they've got good athletes in every spot. Their defense seems exceptional to me. It's a really solid baseball team," Hayden said. "They play fundamental baseball, and they don't give you any extra chances. You've got to capitalize on every thing you get from those guys, and we didn't do a great job of that on the weekend."