April 4, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina scored a combined nine runs in the third and fourth innings and freshman right-hander Matt Price hurled five scoreless innings of relief to earn his third win of the year as South Carolina defeated Mississippi State 14-2 on Sunday afternoon to win the rubber game of a three-game SEC baseball series. South Carolina is now 22-6 and 7-2 in the SEC while the loss drops MSU to 15-13 and 3-6 in conference play.
The middle of the order did a lot of damage for the Gamecocks on the afternoon with the 3-6 hitters driving in nine of the 14 runs. All nine starters reached base with eight of nine tallying at least one hit. Adrian Morales was 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI with Parker Bangs also going 1-for-3 with three runs scored, three RBI and a homer. Nick Ebert also homered and drove in a pair of runs. Kyle Enders, Bobby Haney and Scott Wingo each had two hits. Whit Merrifield extended his hitting streak to 15 games and has now hit safely in 27 of 28 games on the year. South Carolina finished with 11 hits on the afternoon.
It was enough support for Price, who came on in the fourth inning and shut down MSU until the ninth inning. Price allowed just two hits and struck out six batters to improve to 3-0 on the year. Freshman right-hander Ethan Carter closed out the game with a perfect ninth inning to seal the Gamecock win. MSU starter Tyler Whitney lasted only 2.1 innings and suffered the loss. He is 0-1 on the year. He allowed five runs on two hits with five walks and four strikeouts.
Mississippi State’s leadoff hitter Luke Adkins gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning with a solo home run. Adkins knocked a 0-1 pitch from Gamecock starter Jay Brown over the wall in right field to give MSU a one-run cushion. South Carolina answered in the bottom half of the first with Ebert, as the senior first baseman stroked a two-run homer to right center giving Carolina a 2-1 lead. Ebert launched the first pitch for his second homer of the season. State came right back though in the top of the second to tie the game at 2-2 as Russ Sneed began the frame with a solo homer also to right center.
The third inning would be big for the Gamecocks as Carolina broke the tie with five runs to take a 7-2 lead. The five runs came on just one hit as Whitney walked Merrifield, Bradley Jr. and Bangs to open the inning. With Greg Houston on in relief, he plunked Adam Matthews on his first pitch to the plate scoring Merrifield. Morales followed with a two-run double ripped to right center and after a passed ball scored another run, the Gamecocks completed the scoring with a squeeze bunt by Kyle Enders.
South Carolina extended the lead to 11-2 in the fourth inning with four more runs on a pair of homers. Parker Bangs knocked a three-run homer to left center with Morales hitting a solo shot to left center as well. For Bangs it was his third homer of the year with Morales tallying his second of the season.
Carolina completed the scoring in the sixth inning with three runs. MSU made a pair of errors and Scott Wingo had a RBI triple as the Gamecocks built a 14-2 lead.
South Carolina has now defeated Mississippi State in five consecutive series in Columbia dating back to the 2000 season. Carolina leads the all-time series 30-25. The Gamecocks are tied for first place in the Southeastern Conference with a 7-2 mark. Carolina is also one game ahead of Florida (6-3) in the SEC Eastern Division.