Kline plays hero's role in 9-5 win over LSU

Some guys are just average in practice, but they become heroes on game day. Switch hitting catcher Trent Kline is one of those, and he was definitely the hero of this day. He had a career best four hits on the day, as he led South Carolina to a 9-5 win over LSU.

Kline finished the LSU series batting .615 (8-for-13) with three doubles, four runs, a homer and five RBI. He leads the team with a .380 batting average. He finished 4-for-5 with three runs and four RBI, also tying career highs.

South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner said of Kline, "He's the worst hitter I've ever coached in practice, but he gives great at bats in the game, and it really paying off for us right now. He got lost in the names on our team but he's our best hitter returning (this season). and he's doing it again for us. he's been clutch."

Kline laughed when told of Tanner's comments, acknowledging it was true. When asked about his home run in the eighth inning, he said, "I was looking for something out over the middle of the plate. I figured they were going to try to pitch to me and give me something good to hit. Smoak is hitting behind me so that makes it easier."

USC and LSU established a pattern for who would win in their weekend series – score one run early and then hold on tight behind solid pitching until the late innings, when your offense could finally figure out the opposing pitcher's stuff and add to the score. After USC won on Friday and LSU on Saturday, the Gamecocks proved they had the formula down pat on Sunday, picking up the win for the game and the series with a 9-5 win over the visiting Tigers. USC has now won nine of the last ten games between the two teams. The Gamecocks are now 17-2, 2-1 in the SEC. LSU drops to 13-9, 1-2 in the SEC.

True freshman pitcher Blake Cooper was not supposed to be starting the third game of the opening SEC series, Jay Brown was. Brown is instead planning a trip to see renowned orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham on Monday for evaluation and possible surgery on his throwing arm. Cooper made the most of his opportunity, getting the win as he kept the Tigers scoreless through the 5 2/3 innings he pitched. He allowed only two hits and one walk, throwing four strikeouts and 44 strikes on only 76 pitches. He has now pitched 15 scoreless innings this season in six appearances.

When asked if he was nervous going in to his first SEC start, Cooper admitted, "I had a little trouble getting some sleep last night. It's a big deal pitching in the SEC." Talking of the game, he said, "It was pretty intense. The defense played pretty good behind me. I made some pitches when I had to."

Tanner said of his young pitcher, "I didn't think he had real good stuff but he just hung in there. For a young kid he's got some poise. he got behind a little bit, but he got some quality innings and gave us some chance to get to some other guys." It was Cooper's third win of the season.

Cooper was succeeded by Will Atwood, who only pitched for 1 2/3 innings before being replaced by "CuJo" Curtis Johnson, who pitched for one inning before giving way to Wynn Pelzer, who struggled for the last two innings, but closed out the game successfully. Tanner did not indicate he had any major concerns about Pelzer's struggles of late, comparing him and his performances to the best closing pitchers in the SEC and the ACC.

"You get two out of three in this league you've got to consider it s successful weekend." Tanner said. "We needed them all today. We scored some late but they came right back at us."

Freshman Lonnie Chisenhall has been a great addition to the USC baseball program, and had started every game this season - until Sunday. Coach Tanner said after yesterday's loss that defensive lapses in the outfield hurt Carolina. Though he didn't name Chisenhall at the time, it was clear the freshman's gaffes in the outfield were what he was referring to. Tanner also said after the game that Chisenhall had struggled at the plate as of late.

Jon Willard's two run homer in the bottom of the seventh that pulled USC within reach of a win on Saturday gave Tanner another reason to give Willard a chance to replace Chisenhall in the starting lineup. Willard did not have a hit on the day.

Another key part of the winning weekend formula for the Gamecocks has been to have a big offensive inning in the 7th. Kline again came to the plate after USC had already scored an insurance run to make the score 3-0. A passed ball allowed the runners to advance to second and third, and Kline hit a blooping right field double to send both runners home and extend the lead to 5-0. USC loaded the bases, ready for another big hit, this time by James Darnell. He delivered with a two run single to right, and the big inning continued. The Gamecocks scored four runs on five hits in the inning.

Just like USC did on Saturday, LSU came back late on Sunday, finally scoring their first run in the top of the eighth on a home run by designated hitter Ryan Schimpf. Johnson then walked Haydel, and got behind Hollander 2-0 before Tanner brought in Wynn Pelzer to close out the game. Pelzer threw two balls to walk Hollander. He struck out McGhee and induced Mitchell to hit an infield out at first, but then allowed a two run single by left fielder Blake Dean to pull LSU within 7-3. An error advanced the next hitter Ochinko to second and Dean to third. Steven Waguespack hit a double to left, scoring two more runs and drawing LSU within 7-5. The tying run came to the plate in J.T. Wise, but he popped out to end the inning and the LSU rally.

The Gamecocks return to action on Tuesday night hosting UNC Asheville at 7 pm, and will also travel to Wofford on Wednesday at 7 pm for another non-conference match-up. They travel to Starkville MS for their first SEC road series this weekend.

Player of the game: Trent Kline

Notes: Pitcher Jay Brown flies to Birmingham Monday to get examined by Dr. Andrews. If they determine he needs surgery, then he will stay over Tuesday to have whatever procedure deemed necessary.

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