The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks cap off conference sweep of UK

Holbrook: LB Dantzler’s 410-foot home run ‘symbolic’ of series

According to coach Chad Holbrook, senior first baseman LB Dantzler’s 410-foot home run in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game was symbolic of USC’s weekend series.

Combined with an imposing start by freshman Jack Wynkoop, the home run set the stage for a 3-1 win on a windy afternoon at Carolina Stadium, completing the Gamecocks’ weekend sweep of Kentucky.

“There was definitely a sense of urgency and heightened awareness on our part, knowing how big a series this was for us,” said freshman second baseman Max Schrock. “I think we played pretty well and played up to that standard.”

After Sunday’s game, Holbrook said he noticed during Dantzler’s at-bat that the flags in the outfield were limp, and Holbrook thought to himself that the timing would be perfect to hit the ball out of the park. The wind picked back up immediately afterward.

The mammoth home run was Dantzler’s 12th of the season and brought his RBI total for the season to a team-leading 42. The senior said it was his first home run to center as a Gamecock.

“I know the wind was howling out there. I guess he got a little shield from the batter’s eye, but that still takes nothing away from how hard and how far he hit that ball,” Schrock said. “That was incredible.”

Wynkoop threw exactly 100 pitches in eight innings, the longest start of his collegiate career. He allowed one unearned run in the top of the fourth inning. Although Kentucky had a base runner in every inning, the freshman was able to mix pitches and get into an effective rhythm to keep the Wildcats off the board.

“It was a good day to pitch because of the wind,” Holbrook said. “The ball wasn’t carrying much today. That being said, he would have been good if the wind was blowing out.”

Wynkoop earned his first conference win and fifth win in six starts, solidifying his spot in the weekend rotation. He said Sunday’s outing gave him confidence for upcoming conference starts.
“I’ll definitely remember this day,” Wynkoop said.

After Friday night’s game was postponed because of weather, the Gamecocks (31-10, 11-7 SEC) played a doubleheader Saturday, winning the first game 5-2 behind a strong start from senior Nolan Belcher and a four-run fourth inning that featured two consecutive home runs.

The second game was decided in the bottom of the 11th inning when junior designated hitter Brison Celek hit a walk-off RBI single to give South Carolina a 7-6 win. The first two hitters in the inning reached base to bring up Schrock, who was asked to bunt. He popped the ball foul, and it was caught by the Kentucky first baseman.

Asked why he decided to bunt in that situation, Holbrook said former coach and current Athletics Director Ray Tanner taught him never to play against the game, and he would have “jumped off the bridge out there” if Schrock had lined into a double play.

Prior to his game-winning hit, Celek was hitless in five at-bats in the game with four strikeouts.

“The odds were with him in that last at-bat,” Holbrook said.

This weekend series marks the fifth in a row where the Gamecocks have either swept an opponent or been swept. With three wins against Kentucky (24-15, 7-11 SEC), the Gamecocks move into second place in the SEC East.

Holbrook said he is pleased that his team has handled adversity well enough to put them in that position.

“I’m proud as heck of our players for all they’ve been through,” Holbrook said. “They’ve given me everything they’ve got.”


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