March 3, 2010
COLUMBIA, SC – Scott Wingo and Whit Merrifield each homered and Gamecock starter Nolan Belcher combined with four relievers for a two-hit shutout as 15th ranked South Carolina defeated Presbyterian 15-0 on Wednesday afternoon in a non-conference tilt at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks are now 5-2 on the year while the loss drops Presbyterian to 1-7 for the season. South Carolina returns to action with a three-game series vs. nationally ranked Clemson. The series begins on Friday at Clemson with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s tilt will be at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. and is scheduled for 2 p.m. with the finale at Carolina Stadium on Sunday at 2 p.m. as well.
Belcher was dominant on the hill for the Gamecocks with five scoreless innings and just one infield hit allowed. He struck out seven and walked one to earn his first win of the year. Matt Price also struck out one in one inning of relief with Parker Bangs striking out two batters in his stint. Freshmen Ethan Carter and Colby Holmes closed the game out with an inning apiece as well. South Carolina pitchers had 10 strikeouts to two walks on the afternoon. Presbyterian reliever Jesse Harmon went 1.2 innings and allowed seven runs on five hits to suffer the loss. He is 0-1 on the year.
“It has been only seven games but our pitching continues to do a nice job,” said head coach Ray Tanner. “We used five guys today. Nolan Belcher had a quality start and we had some guys in the bullpen that got a little bit of work. We got a bunch of runs early with two outs, so that put us where we needed to be today.”
Carolina’s 18 hits included eight doubles and a pair of homers. The eight doubles tied for the fourth highest mark by a team coached by Ray Tanner in South Carolina history. Merrifield finished 3-for-6 with a grand slam homer and also scored two runs. He also extended his hitting streak that began last season to 21 games. Wingo was 2-for-3 with four runs scored and was twice hit by pitch. He is now tied for the school career record with 34 hit by pitches along with Garris Gonce (2001-02) and Michael Campbell (2003-04-05-06). Brady Thomas, Christian Walker, Jackie Bradley Jr., Robert Beary and Adrian Morales all had two hits apiece as well for the Gamecocks. All nine position starters had at least one hit. Wednesday’s game was also the first start of the year for Bradley, who had surgery over three weeks ago after a broken right hand.
“It made me feel good to be able (to put Jackie’s name in the lineup),” said Tanner. “It’s still early but I’m excited to have him out there. He gives us another dimension. If we can get him going a bit and get (Nick) Ebert some more swings, it will make us a better team.”
The Gamecocks broke ahead 8-0 scoring all eight runs with two outs against the Blue Hose. Robert Beary got things going for Carolina with a double to right center that scored Jackie Bradley Jr. from first base. Bobby Haney followed with a double down the left field line that plated Beary for the second run of the inning. The hits kept coming as Scott Wingo then launched a two-run homer to right center, his first home run of the year. Merrifield went with the momentum as he singled and stole second base and scored on Thomas’ RBI base hit. Jeffery Jones added a RBI single and Nick Ebert had a two-run double as the Gamecocks built an eight-run cushion.
Walker added a RBI single in the third inning and collected his second RBI in the fifth inning with a RBI double just after a RBI double from Thomas. Carolina closed the scoring out in the sixth inning on Merrifield’s grand slam. The home run was set up by a single from Robert Beary, a double by Adrian Morales and a hit by pitch to Scott Wingo. Merrifield turned on a 1-2 pitch from PC reliever Drew Wingo that sailed over the wall in left field for his first homer of the season. It is the second grand slam of the year for the Gamecocks, the previous coming on Opening Day courtesy of Jeffery Jones.