USC completes sweep behind Cisco's 9 K's

After trailing until the final dramatic at bat in the first game of the doubleheader, USC took the suspense out of the second game of the day early, putting four runs on the board in the second inning and then putting it on cruise control behind solid pitching to win 5-1.

The win completed a three game sweep of a scrappy Eagle team, and did nothing to hurt the #4 national ranking of Ray Tanner's Gamecocks.

Darkness began to fall during the top of the sixth inning, but sophomore pitcher Mike Cisco's fastball lit up the plate for 6 and 2/3 innings. While earning his first victory of the season, the right-hander out of Mount Pleasant gave up only one run and notched 9 "K's."

Following his team's 5-1 victory, Tanner commented on Cisco's performance, by saying, "Cisco was good. He did a nice job. For the most part our pitching this year has done a good job and given us a chance to win." Cisco said after the game, "It's always comforting when you get run support, and especially early. We pitched to our strengths and their weaknesses."

Phil Disher strode to the plate in the second inning to big applause from the home crowd, who were showing their appreciation for his game winning grand slam in the first game of the day. He provided a little breeze by whiffing his first two pitches, but settled down to get a solid base hit. He then advanced to second on a single from Jon Willard. James Darnell then laid down the perfect bunt, advancing Disher to 3rd as he made it safely to first. Travis Jones followed by sending Disher and Willard home with another base hit. Jones and Darnell crossed the plate and increased the Carolina lead to 4-0 off a RBI base hit from Cheyne Hurst.

"We swung the bat good at times," Tanner said, "at other times our intensity wasn't good enough. We took some innings off, and we're not aggressive enough. We've got to do a better job of that."

After a couple of quick scoreless innings, EMU made a little noise in the top of the fifth by putting one run across. Justin Smoak broke out of his recent slump and got it back with a two out homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jon Willard followed that with a stand up double to center before Darnell popped out to end the inning.

Curtis Johnson retired Eagles' left fielder Derek Lehrman for the final out of the seventh inning. Like Cisco before him, Johnson was also replaced with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning by USC's ace closer Wynn Pelzer, who promptly mowed down first baseman Patrick Dean to end the Eagles' half of the eighth. Pelzer looked like the pitcher Carolina needs him to be this season as he closed out the game with precision. The three pitchers combined for 14 strike-outs, a season high thus far for the Gamecocks. Matt Shoemaker, the starter for the Eagles, suffered the loss and is now 0-1 on the year.

The Gamecocks had nine total hits for the game, led by two apiece by Disher, Willard and Jones. Head Coach Ray Tanner notched his 350th win as the Gamecock's skipper. USC returns to action next Saturday, March 3 with a road contest at arch-rival Clemson that is scheduled for 2 p.m. The Gamecocks host the Tigers the next day on Sunday, March 4 at Sarge Frye Field at 1:30 p.m.

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