March 21, 2010
Columbia, S.C. – Four South Carolina pitchers combined for a one-hitter and Whit Merrifield and Scott Wingo each homered as the Gamecocks defeated Tennessee 4-0 on Sunday afternoon to sweep a three-game series. South Carolina has a 10-game winning streak, the longest by the school since Carolina opened the 2005 season with 10 straight wins. The Gamecocks are 16-4 and 3-0 in the SEC while the loss drops the Volunteers to 10-10 and 0-3 on the year.
South Carolina starting pitcher Tyler Webb had his best start of the season as he limited the Volunteers to one hit, a bunt single in the sixth inning by P.J. Polk, and tied a season-high with 5.2 innings pitched. Webb struck out six batters and walked three as well. He is now 1-1 on the year. Sophomore left-hander Michael Roth added a strikeout in a perfect 0.1 inning of relief with Jay Brown also throwing one hitless inning of relief and Matt Price closing the game out with two perfect innings and three strikeouts to earn his first career save. Tennessee starting pitcher Stephen McCray suffered the loss and is now 2-2 on the year. He went 5.2 innings as well and allowed one run on four hits with a strikeout and three walks.
Playing under wet conditions after an hour and 57 minute rain delay, both teams were limited with offensive opportunities until the Gamecocks broke open the scoring in the bottom of the fifth inning. Whit Merrifield led off the frame drilling a 1-1 pitch from McCray over the left field wall for a home run, his team-leading fifth of the season to put the Gamecocks up a run.
Carolina then battled and kept the Volunteers off the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning. Tennessee looked to mount a rally as Khayyan Norfork walked to open the inning followed by a bunt base hit by P.J. Polk that gave UT a pair of runners with no outs. Webb fought through it though and got a key double play as Zach Osborne laced a ball that third baseman Adrian Morales fielded cleanly, stepping on third base and throwing to first to get a crucial two outs and keeping the lead runner off of third base. Into the game came Roth, who closed out the inning with a key strikeout against Cody Hawn that ended the Tennessee threat.
South Carolina added some insurance in the seventh inning as Scott Wingo launched a solo home run to right field, his third homer of the season along with two more runs in the eighth inning with Brady Thomas driving in pinch runner Evan Marzilli with a double and Adam Matthews plating home Thomas with a RBI base hit.
South Carolina swept an SEC opponent to start the season for the first time since 2001 when Carolina defeated Arkansas all three games in Columbia at Sarge Frye Field.
The Gamecocks head on the road with four contests away from Columbia next week. Carolina faces Georgia Southern on Tuesday night with first pitch at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on CSS-TV. This weekend, South Carolina returns to conference action with a three-game series at Auburn.