Feb. 21, 2010
Columbia, S.C. – Adam Matthews homered and drove in a pair of runs and Christian Walker was 2-for-4 with a RBI as well as South Carolina defeated Duquesne 5-3 to sweep a three-game non-conference series at Carolina Stadium. Carolina is now 3-0 on the year while the loss drops Duquesne to 0-3. The Gamecocks return to action over the weekend with a three-game series at East Carolina beginning on Friday at 3 p.m. ET.
South Carolina was holding on to a 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning when Matthews connected with a two-out solo homer to left center. It was his first homer of the year and the Gamecocks’ sixth of the season. With a 2-0 lead, South Carolina struck for three more runs in the eighth inning including a second RBI from Matthews as well as a RBI single from Walker and Adrian Morales’ sacrifice fly RBI to go up 5-0 entering the ninth inning.
Duquesne however struck back in the top of the ninth inning and gave the Gamecocks a scare with three runs off of Gamecock reliever John Taylor. Duquesne first baseman Mark Tracy opened the frame with a solo homer. With one out and a runner on first base, Chris Happ stroked a double to score Chris Bowser. Happ would then score on another two-out RBI hit, a single off the bat of Derrik Zeroski. The rally would end on the warning track for Duquesne though as Johnny Elms flied out to the gap in left center right near the wall as Jackie Bradley Jr. made the final catch to record the third out of the inning and preserve a Gamecock victory.
Carolina reliever Steven Neff earned his first career win with 1.2 scoreless innings. Duquesne starter Andrew Heck was effective in the loss for the Dukes as he went six innings and allowed one run on five hits with three strikeouts.
South Carolina broke ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Whit Merrifield and Brady Thomas each singled to open the inning and after a fly out to left field advanced Merrifield to third base, he would score on Jeffery Jones’ RBI groundout.
The game remained at 1-0 for the next five innings as Gamecock freshman left-hander Tyler Webb matched Heck. Webb would finish with 4.1 scoreless innings and struck out six batters with just one walk. He yielded five hits. After Duquesne loaded the bases against Webb with one out, the Gamecocks would bring Neff in from the bullpen. With one out and the bags full, Neff induced a 1-2-3 double play to preserve the one-run cushion for Carolina.
Along with Neff, the Gamecocks would also receive solid relief outings from junior right-handers Jose Mata and Parker Bangs as well as sophomore left-hander Michael Roth. Mata had a key pickoff at second base with one out in the top of the seventh inning and Bangs would strike out a pair of batters in the top of the eighth. South Carolina’s pitching staff finished with 39 strikeouts over 27 innings pitched in the three games over the weekend and allowed just nine runs on 21 hits in the three games.
Duquesne would finish with a 9-8 advantage in hits in the contest. Tracy, Happ and Zeroski all had two hits for the Dukes. Along with Walker’s two hits, the Gamecocks also received a 2-for-3 day at the plate from designated hitter Brady Thomas. Gamecock outfielder Whit Merrifield singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. That hitting streak has been carried over from last season.
Gamecock freshman infielder Christian Walker was stellar in his first weekend of action batting 8-for-14 (.571) in the series with a pair of home runs, a double five runs scored and seven RBI. His slugging percentage for the series is 1.071. Jeffery Jones also had a strong weekend with three HR and 10 RBI.