USC Sweeps Southern Illinois With 9-4 Win

Gamecock senior reliever John Taylor hurled 2.2 scoreless innings of relief with a career-high five strikeouts to pick up his first win of the year and Christian Walker, Adrian Morales and Peter Mooney tallied three hits apiece and combined to drive in seven runs as well as South Carolina swept Southern Illinois with a 9-4 victory on Sunday.

South Carolina is now 6-0 on the year while the loss drops Southern Illinois to 2-5 for the season. Carolina returns to action on Tuesday night hosting Furman with first pitch set for 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with live video broadcast and Gametracker stats available at GamecocksOnline.com.

"I was extremely happy with our weekend and being able to win all six games that we have played against quality opponents (in the first two weeks). We knew that Santa Clara and Southern Illinois were very well coached teams," head coach Ray Tanner said. "They have a lot of tough outs. They had some pitchers step up for them at the right time to keep them alive. We were very fortunate today, after getting some runs early, to get out of that fifth inning that could have been disaterous.

"We ended up with four walks and they hit four or five balls on the screws. The key was three outstanding defensive plays by Matthews, Bradley, and Mooney. That was huge for us. Then we were able to come back in and answer back a little bit to extend our lead. It was a good win for us. Adam Westmoreland pitched well early. John Taylor was outstanding in his third appearance on the weekend. We needed for him to be good today and he was."

In his third appearance of the weekend, Taylor limited SIU to just one hit in a career-high 2.2 innings while striking out five batters and retiring eight of nine batters faced. He is now 1-0 on the year. Southern Illinois starter Todd Eaton lasted only 2.2 innings and allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits with a strikeout and two walks. He is 1-1 on the year.

Carolina broke ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. drilled a two-run homer to right-center, his second home run of the season. After a Christian Walker double, Adrian Morales tallied a two-out RBI single to give the Gamecocks a three-run cushion.

That lead extended to 6-0 in the third inning. With two outs and Walker on first base, Morales notched his second hit of the game, a two-run homer to left-center, his first homer of the season. The Gamecocks were not done there though as Jake Williams tripled to right-center and scored on Peter Mooney's RBI double.  

  With the Gamecocks holding a 6-0 lead, Southern Illinois looked to rally in the fifth inning as Jordan Sivertsen led off with a solo home run followed by a double off the bat of Wes Neece and a pair of walks to Brian Bajer and Jake Welch that loaded the bases. Chris Murphy knocked a RBI sacrifice fly to right field scoring Neece and cutting the Gamecocks' lead to four runs. That ended the day for Carolina starter Adam Westmoreland, who worked 4.1 innings in his second start of the year. Gamecock reliever Steven Neff entered but struggled with his control as he walked Blake Pinnon and hit Donny Duschinsky with the bases loaded scoring Bajer and bring SIU to within three runs. Taylor then was summoned and limited SIU to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Austin Montgomery to center field that brought the score to 6-4.

That would be it for SIU though, as Taylor settled in and kept the Salukis off balance. The Gamecocks gave him some insurance as well with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth inning. Mooney drove in Morales with his third hit of the game, a RBI double in the bottom of the fifth and Walker drove in two more runs in the sixth with a RBI single. Carolina relievers Forrest Koumas and Patrick Sullivan closed it out with a pair of scoreless innings to seal the win for the Gamecocks.

Carolina pounded out 14 hits in the win. Walker was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, Morales was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and tied a career-high with three RBI and Mooney went 3-for-3 with two RBI.

Gamecock junior left-hander Steven Neff will get his first start of the season on Tuesday night vs. Furman.

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