Gamecocks down Terriers, prepare for Clemson

Wynn Pelzer had struggled all season when players reach base. The hard throwing junior seemed to have command over his pitching when no one was aboard, but had meltdowns when runners touched the base pads. But apparently the old Wynn Pelzer wasn't on the hill Tuesday night, as the righthander faced back-to-back bases loaded jams but came out unscathed to help No. 4 USC knock off Wofford 8-0.


"When he came in and got us out of that bases loaded jam, that got me a little bit excited to be honest with you," USC coach Ray Tanner said.

With Carolina holding a 3-0 lead, Wofford loaded the bases in the sixth with only one out, and USC coach Ray Tanner made the call to put Pelzer on the mound. Pelzer earned the inning's second out on a ground out to Travis Jones at second base and finished the inning with a strikeout of the Terriers' best homerun hitter, third baseman Brandon Waring.

"He got a slider to Jonesy in the air, then he struck out a guy who has tremendous power," Tanner said. "He could have changed that score in a hurry, but Pelzer did a super job with some pressure on him."

With two more insurance runs in the bottom of the inning to put the Gamecocks up 5-0, Pelzer looked to be back to his struggling self as two hit batters and a walk helped load the bases again. But another strikeout and groundout helped the 2006 All-SEC reliever escape another jam.

"I didn't like that as much because he put them out there. Cooper left them out there, and he got out of the inning," Tanner said. "He looks better. His numbers are pretty good. I think our expectations are pretty high for him, and that's part of it. Hopefully he'll have some good outings here in the last 19 games."

More insurance runs, including one in the seventh off a wild pitch, allowed Travis Jones to score, and Carolina ran its lead to 6-0. Two more would cross in the bottom of the eighth on some awkward infield hits, extending USC's hit total to 10 and its lead to 8-0. That gave relievers Curtis Johnson and Sean Wideberg plenty of breathing room. Johnson sat down all six batters he faced, including 2 strikeouts, and Wideberg forced a double-play and strikeout in the ninth to help seal the win. With the victory, USC swept the season series with Wofford, as they also took a 13-1 victory back on March 21.

Tanner was pleased to have Wofford offer his team such a challenge as his team turns their attention towards Wednesday night's match-up with bitter rival, No. 14 Clemson. Tanner will send former Saturday starter Mike Cisco to the mound to face the Tigers.

"It's great for college baseball, this Clemson-South Carolina rivalry," Tanner said. "I know their guys will be excited, our guys will be excited and hopefully it will be a great game."

NOTES:

- Construction on the new USC baseball stadium received a setback today, as DHEC officials will not allow excavation on the area until the construction plan is reviewed. Residents of the Granby Mill area asked DHEC officials to look at the plan which includes two retaining ponds. The residents are asking the ponds be moved to a different location on the site. The review could take up to 60 days to happen. Demolition of the old structures on the site will continue.

Player of the Game: Blake Cooper

Though Pelzer showed the grit he'd been missing in previous games, Cooper's first five innings were a thing of beauty. The freshman finished the yielding no runs and held a potent Terrier offense to just four hits on the night in 5.1 innings of work. He also struck out two.

"I thought it was an outstanding outing. He pitched very well for us," Tanner said. "He gave us a quality outing in a game that was extremely close."


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