As the wins keep coming for the South Carolina baseball team, Ray Tanner continues to find more reasons to feel good about his team.
In Tuesday night’s 5-2 victory against Charleston Southern at Carolina Stadium, he liked what he saw out of junior left-hander Adam Westmoreland’s first start of the season as well the play of his latest middle-infield combination.
Westmoreland went 52/3 innings to pick up the win — matching his win total in nine starts last season — by allowing one run on four hits and one walk while striking out four. Meanwhile, sophomore second baseman Erik Payne, whose two hits included an RBI triple, and freshman shortstop Connor Bright played errorless baseball in their fourth consecutive starts together.
The No. 3 Gamecocks upped their record to 14-1, while the Buccaneers, who have lost eight of their past nine games, dropped to 5-12. USC will face Appalachian State (14-2), which has won 12 consecutive games, at 7 tonight at Carolina Stadium before it starts SEC play at Kentucky this weekend.
Westmoreland posted a 5.77 ERA last season after being sidelined for a year by Tommy John elbow surgery, but he looked sharp in his second appearance this season.
“It was encouraging for me. I thought his stuff looked good,” Tanner said. “He had some command and got us in a position that we could win. He gave us a quality start, and the bullpen did a good job of holding those guys off.”
Sophomore right-hander Forrest Koumas pitched 21/3 innings of scoreless relief, and freshman right-hander Joel Seddon recorded the final out for his first save after CSU scored a ninth-inning run.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Westmoreland came away pleased with his 73-pitch outing.
“I feel a lot better physically and mentally, as far as anything else. I’m just trying to go out there and get ahead of hitters,” he said. “I wasn’t so much worried about being extended because, as a starter, that’s what I was trying to do anyway. I wasn’t tired but I could definitely feel it and know I had thrown a good bit of pitches. I wanted to stay out there as long as I could.”
Westmoreland was supported by solid defense, including steady play from Payne and Bright, who have made their case to keep starting. Payne, who has six hits over his past three games to raise his average to .375, hopes the opportunities continue to come for the pair.
“We play well with each other, and we’re just trying to take it day by day,” Payne said. “We try to have fun with it and not make mistakes out there on routine plays.”
Tanner admits it’s hard to argue with their success to this point.
“I don’t want to get too excited right now, but they’ve been solid,” Tanner said. “They’ve played with some energy. They’ve been very consistent. They’re more comfortable, of course, now than they were a few games ago. If they can make the routine plays the way we’ve been pitching it, that should be OK. If you get a little bit of offense (from them), that’s good as well.”
The Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kyle Martin’s two-out single drove in Evan Marzilli, whose leadoff double extended his streak of reaching base to 15 games. USC upped the lead to 3-0 in the third inning off CSU starter Kevin Buran (0-2) when Christian Walker got the rally started with a one-out double and scored on LB Dantzler’s single.
Payne then drilled a line drive that CSU centerfielder Bobby Ison dove for and missed, which allowed the ball to keep rolling and Dantzler to score. Payne easily made it to third for a triple but was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch it into an inside-the-park homer.
CSU cut the lead to 3-1 in the sixth on Jaren Sustar’s RBI single off reliever Hunter Privette, but Grayson Greiner capped USC’s scoring with a pinch-hit two-run single in the seventh inning to up the lead to 5-1. Tanner English added three hits on the night, including a leadoff single in this inning to get the rally going.
The Gamecocks face a stiffer test tonight against the Mountaineers, who won two-of-three at No. 13 LSU earlier in the season. USC freshman left-hander Jordan Montgomery will get the start on the mound.
“They’re really good, and I know they’re going to come in here on a mission,” Tanner said. “Every day for us really is a grind. We’re not a team that can throw up an eight- or 10-spot on you and sit back. We have to fight like the dickens every single day.”
|ISON, Bobby cf||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||0||0|
|TOMASOVICH, Alex ss||4||1||2||0||0||1||1||3||0|
|SUSTAR, Jaren 2b||4||0||1||1||0||1||0||4||0|
|SHELTON, Chase dh||4||1||2||0||0||1||0||0||1|
|WELCH, Brian lf||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||2|
|HUNT, Blake ph||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|QUATTLEBAUM, W. 1b||3||0||1||1||1||1||10||0||0|
|WOODALL, Drew c||4||0||1||0||0||2||5||0||1|
|STREETT, Robbie 3b||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||4||1|
|BERRY, Nick rf||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||1||0|
|MOSES, Derek ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|MILES, Shane rf||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|BURAN, Kevin p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|DEIGHAN, Corey p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|HAGAMAN, Zach p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|GUNTHER, Ryan p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Evan Marzilli cf||4||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||2|
|Adam Matthews rf||3||1||0||0||1||1||2||1||0|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||1||1||0||0||1||8||0||0|
|Kyle Martin dh||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Grayson Greiner ph||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||0||0|
|LB Dantzler 3b||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||2||1|
|Erik Payne 2b||3||0||2||1||1||0||2||1||2|
|Dante Rosenberg c||4||0||0||0||0||0||10||1||0|
|Connor Bright ss||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||2||1|
|Tanner English lf||4||1||3||0||0||0||1||1||1|
|Adam Westmoreland p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Hunter Privette p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Nolan Belcher p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Forrest Koumas p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Logan Munson p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Joel Seddon p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - TOMASOVICH(6); WOODALL, D.(2). DP - CSU 1; S. Carolina 2. LOB - CSU 5; S. Carolina 7. 2B - TOMASOVICH(1); SHELTON, C.(7); QUATTLEBAUM(2); Marzilli(5); Walker(3); English(1). 3B - Payne(1). SB - SUSTAR, J.(3); Payne(1).
|BURAN, Kevin L,0-2||5.1||9||3||3||0||3||0||0||0||0||24||24||7||5||87|
|Adam Westmoreland W,1-0||5.2||4||1||1||1||4||0||0||0||0||19||20||7||4||73|
|Joel Seddon S,1||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||4|
Win - Westmoreland (1-0). Loss - BURAN, K. (0-2). Save - Seddon (1). Pitches/strikes: BURAN, K. 87/59; DEIGHAN, C. 20/9; HAGAMAN, Z. 4/3; GUNTHER, R. 13/7; Westmoreland 73/48; Privette 2/2; Belcher 8/5; Koumas 31/20; Munson 11/6; Seddon 4/3.
Umpires - HP: David Brown 1B: Amp Pollard 3B: Tom Haigth
Start: 6:59 pm
Privette faced 1 batter in the 6th.