USC blasts Western Kentucky 12-0
"Only two games into the season, and we're playing pretty well," Tanner said following his team's victory over the Hilltoppers on Saturday afternoon. "We had a great start from Jay Brown, got him some run support, and played pretty solid defense."
Coming into Saturday afternoon's game, WKU was riding high off of a late game rally against the Hughes Bros. Challenge host team, UNC Wilmington. The Hilltoppers used a top of the ninth inning two run homer by center fielder Scott Kaskie to break a 2-2 tie open for a 4-2 win.
But the Hilltoppers quickly found themselves down against the Gamecocks, as Lonnie Chisenhall rifled a triple to the right field corner and was brought home on a single by first baseman Justin Smoak on the team's next at bat. The lead continued to grow for the Gamecocks as Cheyne Hurst recorded an RBI on a groundout to put USC up 2-0 in the second.
The game broke open in the third, as Chisenhall hit his first homerun as a Gamecock, which was later followed by an RBI single by Phil Disher and a two-run homer by Jon Willard to put USC up 6-0 in the third.
"I swung the bat really well today. I'm really glad for me and the team," Chisenhall said.
Carolina loaded the bases with no one out in the fourth inning, but could only manage back-to-back sacrifice flies from catcher Trent Kline and Chisenhall to put the Gamecocks up 8-0.
In his first start on the mound at Carolina, Jay Brown gave a solid starting performance, recording six strikeouts in the first four innings. The junior college transfer managed to quell a scoring threat in the bottom of the fifth, as the Hilltoppers loaded the bases with two out only to have second baseman Matt Payton ground out to Travis Jones at second to end the threat. Brown finished his debut allowing 4 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"It was a cold day today, and our hitters the way they're swinging, I was just focused on getting back into the dugout and letting our hitters swing the bats," Brown said. "When we swing the bats well, it's easy to go out there and pitch like that."
The offensive attack continued to roll in the sixth as Jones led off the inning with a monster solo shot to up the USC lead to 9-0. A Kline walk set up Chisenhall again, who would tie a school record by knocking his second triple of the game, this time for an RBI to push the lead to double digits at 10-0. The last USC player to hit two triples in a game was shortstop Stephen Tolleson against Radford in 2005.
"The coach didn't realize (I could've hit for the cycle)," Chisenhall said. "He just kept waving me. He said if I'd have realized it I would've told you to trip or something like that."
James Darnell followed Jones' example, as he led off the seventh inning with a long solo blast to increase the margin to 11-0, and after taking two bases on a wild pitch, pinch hitter Kyle Enders scored on a Chisenhall sacrifice fly to put Carolina up by the 12-0 final margin.
Jeff Jeffords, who replaced Brown on the mound in the sixth inning, came on to keep things in check, notching back-to-back strikeouts in the sixth to retire WKU and struck out the first batter of the seventh inning.
"I really was impressed with Jeffords," Tanner said. "He wants to pitch. He doesn't want to end his career on the bench. We gave him the opportunity, and he cashed in on it."
Carolina, which has scored a combined 25 runs in its first two games, will look to sweep the field on Sunday afternoon when they play the host team, UNC Wilmington. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. (EST)
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