Coming off its first loss of the season, South Carolina wasted little time getting back to winning baseball Wednesday night at Carolina Stadium.
South Carolina pushed across four first-inning runs and freshman Joel Seddon pitched five shutout innings in his first career start as the Gamecocks defeated UNC Asheville 8-1.
Christian Walker was two-for-five at the plate with a team-high three RBIs while LB Danztler added two RBIs on a three-for-five night. Connor Bright, making his first start at shortstop after spending the first part of the year at second base, added two RBIs of his own.
While the four-run first set the tone, it was the steady collective efforts of the Gamecocks' pitching staff that continued to keep the pressure off the bats.
Last week in Carolina's first midweek game of the season it was freshman Jordan Montgomery who got his first chance at starting in a Gamecock uniform.
This week it was Seddon who got into a little trouble in the first inning but cruised otherwise. The righty displayed a low-90's fastball and solid command all night giving up just two hits while striking out three and walking two.
"I was kind of excited to be out there and I got my opportunity to get to be there," the freshman said. "I felt good and its always nice when you get some run support early on and we got that four-run first inning so I could focus on pounding the zone from there."
The Gamecocks jumped all over Asheville starter Dean Roland who took the loss and lasted just 3.2 innings after giving up six earned runs.
Coming off a less than stellar weekend at the plate, Evan Marzilli led off the game with an excellent at-bat fouling off multiple pitches and ultimately taking a walk. on the very next pitch, a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Tanner English put runners on the corners when he cued the pitch right to the area the second baseman had vacated. Both hitters finished the nights with two hits a piece.
Walker's single lined over the second baseman's head and put the Gamecocks on the board 1-0. Dantzler then pulled a single into right field for the 2-0 edge. After a groundout moved both runners up, Adam Matthews extended his hands and flied deep enough to center to score Walker on the tag-up. A Bright single put the Gamecocks up 4-0.
"Top of the lineup did a good job of getting on early and we were able to get them in and it was good to get four after the first," Dantzler said. "Joel is a terrific pitcher and did really good for a freshman out there and handled himself well."
South Carolina added two more runs in the fourth and then one apiece in the seventh and eighth innings.
But the story was again pitching as the staff collectively held Asheville to just four hits.
Adam Westmoreland hasn't gotten any opportunities to pitch this season, but the junior lefty made the most of his chance Wednesday. He entered the game with a purpose in the sixth and quickly struck out the first two betters he faced before getting a fly out for the 1-2-3 inning.
"I was excited, actually really excited to get out there and it felt good," Westmoreland said. "It was the first time in awhile. and I've been throwing good pens with [pitching] Coach (Jerry) Meyers and working on some things and everything felt really good."
Westmoreland just gave up a two-out hit in an uneventful seventh inning as he cruised through his two innings of work.
Asheville struck for a run against Vince Foiri in the eighth. Foiri gave up a hit and walked two batters before giving way to side-armer Hunter Privette, who retired the one batter he faced.
Logan Munson pitched the final 1.1 innings of the game and gave up just a lone base runner on a walk.
South Carolina improves to 10-1 on the season while Asheville falls to 7-7.
"I thought we had a good game tonight and we did some things well," head coach Ray Tanner said. "And we continue to pitch pretty good and got a great start tonight from Seddon and Westmoreland was impressive. I thought Logan Munson was impressive as well."
South Carolina returns to action this weekend hosting a three-game series against Princeton with first pitch of Friday's game scheduled for 7 p.m.
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