Smoak, Disher Lead USC To 6-2 Win
After a twister and journey through Oz, Dorothy once said, "There's no place like home! There's no place like home!" The Gamecocks had no twister and no journey through Oz, but they did get flattened by a barn-storming team in Oxford, Mississippi. Reminiscent of Dorothy though, they did face off against a Wicked Witch – Ole Miss' Lance Lynn tortured the Gamecocks like no one else before.
Gamecock Head Coach Ray Tanner juggled everything from line up to rotation hoping to rest a tired squad. Concerned going in, Tanner said, "I thought we might be a little bit sluggish after coming off that long road trip. We got in Monday morning real early."
"I tried to keep guys fresh – tried to keep Trent Kline fresh and get his legs under him a little bit. I gave Andrew Crisp part of the night off to get Reinhold a little time," explained Tanner.
From the outset, surprise starter Forrest Beverly appeared shaky at best, missing the strike zone frequently. Tanner went to him though because "he was the most rested guy." With the 17-24 Southern Conference Wildcats on base early and often, Beverly threw 36 pitches and allowed four base runners, but did not allow a run.
In the bottom of the second inning Carolina All-American first baseman Justin Smoak extended his hitting streak to 23 games with a long home run to left center field. Smoak maintains the hitting streak is not important to him, "I really don't think about things like that. I just go out there and try to have fun with it."
With Davidson finally getting to Beverly in the top of the third to tie the score at one, Phil Disher answered by hitting an opposite field home run on a full count to lead off the bottom half. A wild throw by third baseman Graham Chapman on a Travis Jones groundball followed by a balk and a Cheyne Hurst double put the Gamecocks in front 3-1 after three.
Mike Cisco relieved Forrest Beverly after a three inning, 53 pitch effort. Just when it seemed the Wildcats were close to solving Beverly, Cisco provided a different style – one they were not so accustomed to.
"I tried to carry momentum from my last start," said Cisco, "Once I got out there (I) felt pretty comfortable and just tried to keep us in a position to win."
Effective, Cisco kept the once noisy bats of Davidson at bay for four innings. Only yielding one hit and one unearned run, he recorded five strikeouts.
An error by James Darnell, followed by two Cisco walks, helped Davidson close within 4-2. The comeback was short lived though as another Davidson error combined with Phil Disher's first career triple extended the lead 6–2.
RHP Curtis Johnson came on in the eighth inning, only to be victimized by another Darnell error. It was the glove of Justin Smoak though that saved the day, as he dove towards second base to snag a would-be run scoring single and end the threat.
After the game, Smoak laughed, "I don't lay out for many balls. It kind of shocked me when it was in my glove."
Johnson mowed down the Wildcats in the ninth to finish off a pesky Davidson squad for good. Tanner was pleased with the patchwork pitching performance all night, saying, "Beverly gave us the start. Cisco and Johnson only gave up two hits between them."
Wednesday evening the Gamecocks will travel to Doug Kingsmore Stadium in an attempt to sweep the series with their archrival – a feat not accomplished since 1985. To put the streak in perspective, Justin Smoak and a host of other Gamecocks weren't even born then. The Gamecocks will send Blake Cooper to the mound against sophomore RHP Matt Vaughn at 7:15pm.
Interesting Game Note:
Heading to the bottom of the eighth, Davidson pulled one of the most bizarre line-up changes to ever infect the game of baseball. The shortstop moved to pitcher, the pitcher moved to first base, the first baseman moved to third base, the second baseman moved to shortstop, and the third baseman moved to second base.
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