The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks pick up 4th-straight victory

South Carolina rallies past USC Upstate Spartans

The South Carolina baseball team took its time getting on the board Wednesday, falling into an early deficit against USC Upstate, but the Gamecock bats would come alive in due time to secure a 6-1 victory over the Spartans.

“It wasn’t a clean start for us, but it was good to get the win,” head coach Chad Holbrook said. “Some games when you start that way, it’s too tough to climb out of the hole and you end up losing. So I was proud of our guys competing.”

Upstate built a 1-0 lead before many fans had even taken their seats Wednesday night, scoring on a sacrifice fly with just one out in the first inning. But the Spartans would cool off after, that and the Gamecocks (32-10, 10-8 SEC) would hold them scoreless for the rest of the night.

South Carolina didn’t manage to score its first run until the fifth inning, when the Gamecocks lit up USC Upstate for four runs. South Carolina would do more damage in the seventh after junior first baseman Kyle Martin roped an RBI double into right field to match his career high for hits in a game, with four.

Martin’s bat has been hot lately, extending his hit streak to 11 games Wednesday night, and it’s safe to say he has emerged from the slump that bothered him early in the season.

“I feel a little locked in right now,” Martin said. “I didn’t change anything, didn’t change an approach or anything, just kept the same thing and kind of worked myself out of it.”

Matching highs along with Martin were junior third baseman Joey Pankake, whose three hits equaled his best for the season, and freshman Gene Cone, who registered a career-best three hits.
Martin, Pankake, Cone and freshman Marcus Mooney were the only Gamecocks to register hits in South Carolina’s six-run effort, but three of the four turned in multiple-hit days.

Freshman Matt Vogel got the ball on the mound for his second start of the year and went just 1 2/3 innings in which he walked four and allowed one hit. Sophomore Curt Britt was credited with the win after coming in to relieve Vogel of his duties and turning in 3 2/3 innings of three-hit work, striking out three Spartans.

Righty Hunter Privette continued a strong senior campaign with three perfect innings before sophomore Evan Beal came on to secure the final two outs.

“I’m especially proud of Hunter Privette for the way he pitched,” Holbrook said. “He’s a senior, he’s a captain of our team, hasn’t had many opportunities, and for him to come in a pitch in some pretty tight situations there, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Entering Wednesday night’s tilt, Privette had earned a 1-0 record on the year in five relief appearances. He’s allowed just two hits on the season and he owns a 0.00 earned run average.

South Carolina’s injury troubles have been well documented, with the absence of Max Schrock, Connor Bright, Elliott Caldwell and others leaving gaping holes in the Gamecocks’ lineup. South Carolina received a scare in the sixth when junior catcher Grayson Greiner stayed on the ground after hitting his head on a collision at third base, but he was cleared by the training staff and looks to be ready to go for weekend play.

The Gamecocks’ triumph over USC Upstate extends their current winning streak to four games, and with a pivotal SEC set on the horizon this weekend against Alabama, Holbrook likes the way things look.

“All in all, I’m sitting here, and I’m proud that we’re 32-10,” Holbrook said. “The biggest series of the year’s coming up upon us.”