Gamecocks stun Sooners in season opener
But when Carolina took the field for the first game in the 2007 campaign, it was clear why Ray Tanner's club was so highly ranked to start the season, as the Gamecocks came away with a huge opening day win, 13-2.
"I'm happy with what we did today," Tanner said. "We're not perfect by any means, but we did some good things."
USC got a solid first outing from senior Harris Honeycutt, who pitched five innings and yielded just three hits while striking out six, including three sit-downs in the second inning alone.
"I thought it was very good, first time out," Tanner said. "He gave us five quality innings. 82 pitches and struck out a few guys, gave up two or three hits. That's about as good as you can do your first time out."
Honeycutt's starting performance was backed by a solid start to the offense for USC, which racked up 14 hits on the day.
Freshmen second baseman Travis Jones started his collegiate career off right, taking the first pitch of the game from the Sooners for a single. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall would follow that at-bat up with a double that would bring Jones around for the game's first run.
The Gamecocks clung to that 1-0 lead for three innings, before the Sooners tied things up in the fourth. That would be as close as Oklahoma would get, as USC scored three runs in the bottom of the inning, including a homerun by designated hitter Phil Disher. Four straight USC hits would result in Andrew Crisp earning an RBI off of a single later in the inning, and Jones would get his first RBI with two outs.
"I just got a good pitch to hit. (I was) happy to hit it out," Disher said. "You can't ever expect to come out and score 13 runs, but we did a good job today."
The offense continued as Carolina scored another four runs in the bottom of the fifth, which started with a Jon Willard triple, followed by a Justin Smoak double. Jones capped the inning with a sacrifice fly for another RBI that would put USC up 8-1.
With Honeycutt tiring, USC inserted Sean Wideberg for his first collegiate action, but after a double and two walks, Tanner called Will Atwood out of the bullpen, who would get the Gamecocks out of a bases loaded jam with a strikeout and double play. Atwood would finish the day on yielding two hits and retiring two on strikeouts.
"That was a big, big outing," Tanner said. "Atwood goes out there and escapes a bases loaded jam. That's hard to do. It was a great double play turned by Travis (Jones) and Reese (Havens). It was a great inning."
Carolina finished the day by plating another five runs, including another Chisenhall RBI in the seventh. An RBI double by catcher Trent Kline would put USC over the double digit mark, followed by a passed ball and sacrifice fly by James Darnell. The scoring would be capped by Drew Martin who was inserted into the lineup and belted a shot to centerfield in the eighth for a solo homerun. Overall, Tanner was excited to see the offensive output and solid pitching to start the season.
"You want to win your opener. I would have taken it any way as long as it was a win," Tanner said. "It was a good day for us. I'm happy about where we are. 55 more, so it's a long way to go."
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