The Daily Gamecock

USC defeats College of Charleston

Freshman pitcher Vince Fiori credited with victory in 10-6 win
against Cougars Tuesday

In No. 21 South Carolina’s first action since being swept at Florida over the weekend, coach Chad Holbrook said it was important for his team to get back on a winning track.

The Gamecocks (28-10, 8-7 SEC) did so behind an offensive explosion at Carolina Stadium Tuesday as South Carolina beat The College of Charleston 10-6 in a game that featured season highs in hits and runs batted in from several Gamecocks.

Junior outfielder Graham Saiko produced his first four-hit game of the season, going 4-for-5 at the plate with one of three South Carolina home runs on the day.

“We’ve known we’ve been able to hit like this as a team,” Saiko said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit, especially last weekend down in Gainesville, but hopefully tonight gives us some confidence as a team.”

A first-year Gamecock after transferring from Tallahassee Community College, Saiko’s home run Tuesday was his first in the garnet and black.

Despite the recent losing trend, Holbrook said his team has not lacked offensive firepower, citing an increased team batting average in the last several games.

“We’ve put together some games offensively,” Holbrook said. “It’s good to see, and we’ve hit the ball out of the park too, and that’s not bad.”

Shortstop Joey Pankake and outfielder Connor Bright did their parts at the plate as well, both tying season highs in the RBI category with three apiece. Both Pankake and Bright hit home runs on Tuesday.

Junior Forrest Koumas struggled in his third start of the season, exiting the game after 2.1 innings pitched after allowing four runs on four hits and recording three strikeouts. Freshman Vince Fiori was credited with the win Tuesday after entering the game in the third to replace Koumas and allowing no earned runs in his own 2.1 innings of work.

“Fiori’s pitched well for us, he really has,” Holbrook said. “There’s no fear in Vince Fiori, so I don’t have any problem putting him in the game.”

Fiori had a disappointing series against Florida over the weekend, but Holbrook said the freshman’s competitiveness and aggression make him an asset to the lineup regardless of his numbers.

South Carolina cycled through five pitchers Tuesday, closing the game with senior Colby Holmes because of the absence of the usual closer, senior Tyler Webb, due to pain in his throwing elbow. Holbrook would not rule out Webb’s availability for the upcoming weekend but he said Webb is not considered probable.

The coach has also tossed around the idea of sending Pankake to the mound in the near future, saying the everyday shortstop was available to pitch Tuesday but “the timing wasn’t right.”

South Carolina will look to build on the win against the Cougars when they face Kentucky in a three-game set at home this weekend, and Holbrook will look for his team to continue its hot streak behind the plate as it attempts to get back on a winning track in the SEC.

“It was obviously a good win for us coming off a tough week,” Holbrook said. “All-in-all it was good to get a win and get that bad taste out of our mouths.”


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