USC Defeats The Citadel For Second Straight Win

Steven Tolleson and Kevin Melillo returned to the starting lineup Wednesday after missing several weeks with injuries and helped South Carolina beat The Citadel, 5-2, at Sarge Frye Field. Brendan Winn and Nick Gardiner has three hits each for USC. Five USC pitchers combined to limit the Bulldogs to six hits.

Welcome back, Steven Tolleson and Kevin Melillo.

South Carolina's middle infield tandem, hobbled by injuries the past several weeks, returned to the starting lineup Wednesday and contributed to USC's 5-2 victory over The Citadel before 3,868 fans at Sarge Frye Field.

USC improved to 27-10 overall with its second straight victory. The Citadel, which lost 13-4 Tuesday at Clemson, fell to 23-15.

USC's hitting stars were Brendan Winn, who had a pair of doubles among his three hits and a RBI, and, surprise, Nick Gardiner, who had three hits, including a double that led to a key insurance run in the 8th for the Gamecocks.

Cliff Donald made his second career start for USC, and allowed five hits and one run in five innings to get credit for his first career victory in a Gamecock uniform.

Four different pitchers worked the final four innings for USC, and surrendered one hit, four walks, and one run to the Bulldogs. Chad Blackwell pitched the ninth and was credited with his ninth save of the season.

Donald eased through the first with a called strikeout, groundout, and foul out to first.

USC jumped on Citadel starter Jamie Maxwell early, as back-to-back doubles to left with one out in the bottom of the 1st by Triplett and Winn gave USC an early 1-0 lead.

After Landon Powell flied to deep left, Steven Pearce was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with two outs. Michael Campbell drove one to deep center but it was caught by the Citadel centerfielder near the wall.

After Donald made quick work of the Bulldogs in the top of the 2nd, USC added to its lead in the bottom of the inning, thanks in part to Melillo and Tolleson.

Nick Gardiner, making a rare start for USC, got things going with a hard single through the hole into left. Melillo walked to put runners at first and second with no outs.

A wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position for Tolleson, who lofted a sacrifice fly to medium center. Gardiner barely beat the throw home with a nice head first slide. However, USC didn't score again as Davy Gregg walked and Triplett bounced into a tailor-made, 5-3 doubleplay.

The Citadel had consecutive singles with two outs in the top of the 3rd but nothing came of it.

Winn led off the USC 3rd with a double to right, his second two-bagger of the evening. He advanced to third on a squibber by Powell in front of the mound before scoring on a 6-3 groundout by Pearce to give the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead.

After Campbell walked and Gardiner singled (his second hit of the night), Melillo was caught looking at strike three to end the inning.

Nine of USC's 17 batters in the first three innings reached base.

The Citadel had a leadoff double in the 4th but Donald retired the next three batters easily to prevent the runner from advancing further. USC went down in order in the bottom of the 4th.

The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard with a solo homer leading off the top of the 5th.

The Gamecocks got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Winn led off the USC 5th with a single, his third hit of the game. Powell followed with a line drive single to right that moved Winn to third. After Pearce struckout swinging, Winn scored on a wild pitch on the first offering to Campbell.

Matt Campbell, who pitched poorly in his last outing against Kentucky, took the mound for the 6th. He showed his ability to dominant hitters by striking out the side.

Tolleson lined a one-out single to left for his first hit. He was replaced by a pinch-runner (Steven Reinhold).

Some of Campbell's recent control problems emerged in the 7th as he issued a pair of walks after surrendering a leadoff single. A fielder's choice forceout at third scored a run for The Citadel, cutting the USC lead to 4-2.

That was it for Campbell, who was replaced by Harris Honeycutt. Facing the go-ahead run at the plate, Honeycutt promptly walked the first batter he faced, loading the bases. However, a 5-4 forceout left the Bulldogs with only one run to show for their efforts.

Winn walked to start the USC 7th, reaching base for the fourth straight time. But the next three hitters were retired.

Arik Hempy, USC's most impressive reliever the last few weeks, came on for the 8th. He walked the first batter but struckout the next two before inducing an inning-ending 4-3 groundout.

USC picked up a key insurance run in the 8th. Gardiner led off the inning with a double to the gap in right for his third hit of the game. Pinchrunner Mark Stanley advanced to third on a sacrifice by Melillo and scored on a single to center by Tommy King.

USC closer Chad Blackwell picked up his 9th save by pitching a scoreless 9th.

NOTES: USC now leads the all-time series with The Citadel 108-43-1. The teams split two contests in 2003. USC defeated the Citadel 7-5 in Charleston and the Bulldogs won, 7-4, in Columbia. . .Wednesday was the first of two meetings between USC and The Citadel this season, with the second game scheduled at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12 in Charleston, S.C. at Riley Park. . .Nick Gardiner tied his career high with three hits Wednesday. . .Davy Gregg finished 0-for-4 and saw his 14-game hitting streak come to an end. . .Landon Powell is now in sixth place on the USC All-Time Career List. . .for hits with 233 and tied for eighth with 36 home runs. . .USC continues its homestand this weekend with a three-game SEC series vs. Alabama. Friday's first pitch is set for 7 p.m, with Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday's finale at 1:30 p.m. Saturday's game will be televised live on FOX Sports Net South and SEC-TV with Dave Neal and Larry Conley calling the action. . .Aaron Rawl became the 16th player in South Carolina history to record at least 20 wins in his career when he beat Kentucky Sunday. . .Cliff Donald has allowed only 21 hits and four runs in 24 innings this season.

CIT – 000 010 100 = 2-6-0

USC – 111 010 01x = 5-10-0

WP-Cliff Donald (1-0)

LP-Jamie Maxwell (1-2)

Save-Chad Blackwell (9)

HR-The Citadel, Trent Weathers (5th, none on)

Time: 2:33


Next Game: Fri. 4/23 v. Alabama, 7:00 p.m.

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