Crisp Knox 'Em Around
As usual, the Gamecocks came out swinging in the rain. Arik Hempy, though he only lasted 4.2 innings, pitched effectively enough to keep the Volunteers at bay, then Jeff Jeffords came in to shut them down for good as the Gamecocks won 7-1.
A scoreless affair, the game was cruising along after a one and a half hour rain delay. Gamecock starter Arik Hempy and Tennessee's James Adkins were matching strikeouts and zeros until Andrew Crisp came up in the fourth inning. A two run homer to left field by Crisp put the Gamecocks on the board first, though Adkins had already fanned eight Gamecocks through four innings.
"I can definitely see why they are leading the nation (in home runs)," Tennessee ace and starting pitcher James Adkins said. "They take absolute hacks. They come out of their shoes sometimes when they swing."
Crisp played the role of game-changer again in the bottom of the fifth inning. With Arik Hempy up against the ropes and the Vols looking to tie the game, Crisp scooped up a single and launched a laser beam to Trent Kline at home plate.
Visibly tired at this point, enhanced by the rain delay, Arik Hempy called it quits for the evening after 4.2 IP, one earned run, five strikeouts and three hits. From that point on Jeff Jeffords would steal the night.
Getting the last out in the fifth, Jeffords threw no-hit ball for the duration. Though he walked four in his 4.1 innings, he struck out six to get the victory.
"His stuff was really good," Tanner said. "I didn't think he would finish that game. I was just trying to calm Tennessee's bats in the fifth inning, but we were just fortunate he was able to stay out there."
The Yardcocks had more scoring to do though, as Crisp drove in another run with a single to left. Phil Disher walked across home plate to take a 3-1 lead.
The Gamecocks, smelling blood, came back again in the seventh. When Steven Reinhold saw the third strike get by J.P. Arencibia, he took off for first base. A free base runner presented opportunity; something the Gamecocks took advantage of all night. Reese Havens moved him over to second before Travis Jones hit a monster home run, his 16th, to left field.
"You don't get many opportunities against a guy like Adkins," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "We were fortunate that we got all the runs that we did. That was a good game for us, no doubt."
Phil Disher would crush a home run of his own in the eighth, then James Darnell drove in a run in the ninth. At that point, Jeff Jeffords came in to shut the door on his half game no-hitter. Aside from his fourth walk, Tennessee went quietly, sending the Gamecocks to their first win in Knoxville in six years.
STARS OF THE GAME:
Tough call tonight as Andrew Crisp and Jeff Jeffords were keys to the victory. Crisp's three hits and three runs batted in were all the Gamecocks needed. However, pitching no hit ball for 4.1 innings out of the bullpen is almost as impressive. Tie.
Cold and tired, Arik Hempy was in trouble. Tennessee had a golden opportunity to score some runs until Jeffords jogged in from the pen. At that very moment – the game was over.
Travis Jones tied for the team lead in home runs with his 16th in the seventh inning. Justin Smoak and James Darnell both have 16 as well. The revamped order now has its first three batters with 48 home runs and 166 RBI, not to mention they are hitting .330, .331, and .328.
The Gamecocks (37-14, 14-11 SEC) send a struggling Harris Honeycutt to the mound tomorrow in Knoxville. The game is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start. Tennessee's starting pitcher is unannounced.
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