Lynn, Rebels Down USC 6-0

Sophomore Lance Lynn, the burly Ole Miss right-hander, tossed a gem Saturday in the twilight hours of Oxford, Mississippi. After nine innings and twelve strikeouts, the Gamecocks could only muster three hits. With the offense capitalizing on late opportunities and Lynn never letting up, the Rebels were able to overpower the #4 ranked Gamecocks 6 – 0.

There wasn't much to cheer about for the Yardcocks who committed three more errors. Aside from a circus catch by Harley Lail, the only highlight came on a Justin Smoak single in the ninth inning to extend his hitting streak to 21 games. Other than that, Lynn dominated the Gamecocks like no one else this season.

USC head coach Ray Tanner said, "I can't remember anybody handcuffing us like that in a long time. He was really special. He was going to beat anybody in the country today."

It wasn't until the fifth inning that Ole Miss was able to get some runners aboard, then capitalize on the opportunity. Arik Hempy, like Harris Honeycutt the previous night, deserved better. Unfortunately though, the Ole Miss pitching was a shade better.

Hempy's outing was yet another sign that the big lefty is back. He threw seven quality innings giving up only two runs, walking none and striking out six. Curtis Johnson came in for the eighth and got greeted with three USC errors allowing four unearned runs to score.

"Arik Hempy kept us in the game," Tanner said. "He did his job and gave us a chance (to win) despite Lance Lynn dominating us. We hung in there before we had a bad defensive run in the eighth."

Until Smoak's weak single in the ninth inning, the top four in the line up did not get on base. Harley Lail, Travis Jones, James Darnell and Smoak combined to go 0-for-15 up until that point. They looked baffled as they struck out, fouled out and grounded out.

Reflecting on his streak reaching 21 games, Smoak said, "I would have gone 0-for-20 the last two days if we had won two ball games. I don't care about the hitting streak. Lynn was mixing it. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes. When the pitcher has stuff like that on certain days, you just have to tip your cap to him."

Tip their caps, the Gamecocks did. With the way Lance Lynn was throwing darts it wouldn't have mattered if he tipped his pitches either. The Gamecocks fell victim to Lynn's complete game, but they were not the first. This was Lynn's second complete game of the season and his first career shutout.

"I had good stuff today," Lynn said. "It was the best stuff I have had in my career here. When I start off the game dumping in curveballs, I know it's going to be a long day for the hitters."

Tomorrow's 2:30 game offers the Gamecocks one last opportunity to avoid a sweep. Getting swept in the SEC, weather home or on the road is difficult to overcome unless you can return the favor. With time running out and the season growing old, either Blake Cooper or Will Atwood will have to step up to the challenge. The last time the Gamecocks were in this situation, against Vanderbilt, it was Cooper who saved the weekend by shutting down the Vandy offense.

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