Aaron Rawl and three young relievers combined on a five-hitter and South Carolina had three more homers to add to its impressive early season total as the Gamecocks pounded the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, 20-3, Saturday before 4,189 fans at Sarge Frye Field in Columbia.
Landon Powell (2-for-5, 2 RBI), Kevin Melillo (3-for-4, 4 R, 3 RBI), and Steven Pearce (3-for-5, 4 RBI) each smacked a homer to spearhead USC's 20-hit parade. The Gamecocks had a total of 10 extra base hits. Five UNCW pitchers combined for 11 walks and six wild pitches.
USC has 15 homers and 40 extra base hits in the first five games this season. USC's team batting average is .410.
Rawl, a junior making his second start of the season, allowed three hits and struckout four in six innings to improve his record to 2-0. He retired 18 of the 22 batters he faced. Freshmen Harris Honeycutt, Heath Rollins, and Arik Hempy pitched one inning apiece for USC.
USC was never threatened after a six-run outburst in the second. The Gamecocks added a single run in the third, four in the fourth, two in the fifth, five in the seventh, and two in the eighth.
Rawl retired the first six Seahawk batters. UNCW starter Blake Cross set USC down in order in the first (1-3, F-8, 5-3) before quickly encountering difficulties against USC's powerful lineup in the second.
Landon Powell, struggling with a .176 average, hammered the first pitch of the inning over the right-center field wall to give USC a 1-0 lead. It was the senior catcher's first homer of the season.
After Brendan Winn walked on five pitches, Melillo doubled off the wall in left-center to score him with the second run of the inning. Michael Campbell walked to place runners at first and second with no outs. Ryan Mahoney bounced into a 6-4 forceout at second for the first out.
With runners on the corners, Davy Gregg, the No. 9 hitter, singled sharply through the hole into left to score Melillo, giving USC a 3-0 lead. After a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, However, on the next offering, Tolleson swung and missed on a pitch
Triplett bounced a single over the head of the UNCW third baseman into left to score Mahoney and Gregg. The two-RBI hit increased USC's lead to 5-0.
Powell, batting for the second time in the inning, ripped a single to right to score Triplett with the final run of the inning. The uprising ended when Winn struckout swinging.
USC showcased some fine defensive work in the top of he third. After a leadoff single, Landon Powell made a sliding catch of a foul pop near the screen behind home plate. Moments later, Gregg made a leaping grab against the CF wall for the second out.
The offensive prowess continued for USC in the bottom of the third when Melillo sliced a double to left with no outs. He advanced to third on a flyout to deep CF by Campbell and scored on when Gregg delivered his second run-scoring hit of the afternoon with a single to right. The tally pushed USC's lead to 7-0.
Rawl protecting the lead well as he mowed down the Seahawks batters with machine-like precision. The only baserunner for UNCW through the first four innings was a leadoff single in the third.
Triplett led off the USC fourth with a double to right-center and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He trotted home on Pearce's line drive double down the third-base line.
Pearce moved to third when the UNCW catcher mishandled strike three on a low pitch to Landon Powell, who was thrown out 2-3. Pearce scored when Winn drilled a single through the hole into left to give USC a 9-0 lead.
After a pitching change, Gregg delivered his third hit of the afternoon, a two-run bloop single to center.
Rawl surrendered a one-out double and walk in the fifth. He lost the shutout when he gave up a two-run double to right.
USC got the runs back in the bottom of the fifth as Melillo ripped a two-run homer to right. His fourth HR of the season scored Winn, and gave USC a 13-2 lead.
Rawl pitched a perfect sixth before giving way to Honeycutt at the start of the seventh.
After Honeycutt retired the Seahawks in order in the 7th, USC padded its lead with five runs in the home half of the inning. The first run scored when pinch-hitter Nick Gardiner singled home Hank Parks. USC eventually loaded the bases with no outs for Triplett, who plated Mahoney with a sacrifice fly to right, making it 15-2.
Pearce smacked a mammoth three-run homer that carried far over the left field wall and may have reached the softball field if not for the protective netting.
Mark Stanley contributed a two-run double in the eighth for USC.
Lefthander Arik Hempy, the fourth USC pitcher of the game, gave up a leadoff homer in the ninth before retiring the next three hitters, two by strikeout, to complete the rout.
Matt Campbell is the scheduled starter for Sunday's series finale at 1:30 p.m. at Sarge Frye Field.
UNCW – 000 020 001 = 3-5-1
USC – 061 420 52x = 20-20-0
WP-Aaron Rawl (2-0)
HR-Landon Powell (2nd, none on); Kevin Melillo (5th, 1 on); Pearce (7th, two on).
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