April 23, 2010
Athens, Ga. – Blake Cooper worked eight innings and struck out nine batters to earn his eighth win of the season and was backed by an offense that pounded out 12 hits as South Carolina upended Georgia 11-4 on Friday evening in game one of a three-game SEC baseball series at Foley Field. Carolina is now 30-8 and 12-4 in the SEC while the loss drops Georgia to 12-26 and 3-13 in the conference. Game two of the series is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised live on CSS and can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at GamecocksOnline.com.
Cooper is now 8-0 on the year after allowing four runs on seven hits in eight innings on the night. He struck out nine and walked one. Georgia starter Justin Grimm went five-plus innings and allowed nine runs on seven hits with six walks and three strikeouts. He also hit a batter. He is now 2-6 for the season.
South Carolina sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the third inning to build a 6-0 lead on the Bulldogs. Leadoff hitter Bobby Haney walked and Scott Wingo was hit by a pitch on Grimm’s first offering to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners. After a walk to Whit Merrifield loaded the bases, Carolina scored its first run as Jackie Bradley Jr. walked to score Haney. With one out and a 1-2 count, Nick Ebert drove in a pair of runs as he knocked a RBI double down the left field line. The hitting continued as Adrian Morales tallied a RBI infield single on a high chopper to third and Kyle Enders finished off the scoring with a two-run single as the Gamecocks gave Cooper a six-run cushion.
“We were fortunate to get some runs in the third without too many hits,” said head coach Ray Tanner. “(Blake) had good stuff early and he pitched well enough for us to win and that was the key in the game as far as I was concerned.”
The Bulldogs would strike back in the bottom half of the third with a pair of runs. Chase Davidson drew a leadoff walk and Brett DeLoach followed with a single over the head of third baseman Adrian Morales. On the play, Davidson advanced to second base as Gamecock left fielder Adam Matthews attempted to throw out Davidson at third base. With one out, Johnathan Taylor laced a single up the middle that scored Davidson. Peter Verdin added a RBI groundout to cut the Gamecock lead to 6-2. Carolina’s lead would be cut in half at 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning as Kyle Farmer connected on a 1-2 pitch for a homer to left center, his second homer of the season.
South Carolina countered with a home run of its own in the top of the fifth as Adam Matthews connected on Justin Grimm’s first pitch of the frame with a home run to right field, his fourth homer of the year giving the Gamecocks a 7-3 lead.
Carolina chased Grimm in the three-run sixth inning that extended the Gamecock lead to 10-3. Merrifield reached base for the fourth time in the game with a solo home run to right field, his eighth homer of the season, tying him with Wingo for the team lead. After a Jackie Bradley Jr. single, the Bulldogs went to the pen for reliever Steve Esmonde. He was greeted by Jeffery Jones, who laced a single to right field. Ebert would drive in Bradley with a sacrifice fly and Jones scored on Adam Matthews’ RBI groundout.
Georgia scored a single run in the seventh inning on a RBI pinch hit double by Todd Hankins. The Gamecock struck back in the top of the eighth with a single run as well as a wild pitch by reliever Alex McRee scored Adrian Morales.
The Gamecocks finished with a 12-9 advantage in hits on the evening. Morales tied his career-high in hits with a 3-for-5 day at the plate as well as two runs scored. Merrifield reached base four times and was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Bradley also went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Ebert finished with a team-high three RBI in the game. Brett DeLoach went 3-for-4 with a run scored to lead Georgia at the plate.