Honeycutt Settles in Too Late
Honeycutt was ripped for three runs in the bottom of the first inning on three hits. Though he only pitched 6.2 innings, Honeycutt racked up an alarming 128 pitches while issuing eight free passes and six hits. With damage already done after the first inning, Honeycutt labored his way through the night. Tennessee starter Nick Hernandez was effective enough in his five innings, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks. From there it was the Tennessee bullpen who'd return the favor handed to them last night by Jeff Jeffords.
"Waking (eight) guys really makes it hard," Honeycutt said. "I tried to battle as hard as I could and keep it close. Coach Calvi called a great game and Trent (Kline) did a great job behind the plate. I couldn't ask for anything more out of them."
The Gamecocks scored in the fourth inning on a Phil Disher home run, his 12th of the year and second in as many games. The Volunteers wouldn't wait long though to strike back, taking advantage of two more Honeycutt walks. A double by Tennessee second baseman Tony Delmonico drove in his second run of the night and the last run the Vols would need.
The Gamecocks would chip away little by little scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth on a Justin Smoak sacrifice fly. Smoak would strike again in the eighth with a solo home run to get the Gamecocks within one. The most painful moment in the game though was just before Smoak's blast. Travis Jones, the beneficiary of an errant pitch, was standing on first base with James Darnell at the plate. Tennessee All-American catcher, J.P. Arencibia saw Jones leaning and fired to first base. With Jones picked off, Smoak's home run got the Gamecocks within one rather than tie the score.
"He wasn't running, he just leaked of a little too much and Arencibia is one of the best catchers in the country," Tanner said. "Guys like that will nail you and that's exactly what happened."
Andrew Crisp would single in the ninth inning, but that would be all as three fly ball outs sandwiched around him sealed the game and forced a Sunday afternoon rubber game at 2:00pm. The Gamecocks will send Blake Cooper to the mound in an effort to win another road SEC series. Their record now stands at 37-15, 14-12 SEC.
"It was a good college baseball game," USC head coach Ray Tanner said. "We hit two solo home runs and numerous balls to the warning track. They just out hit us."
Vanderbilt's extra inning victory Saturday over Auburn clinched the Eastern Division relegating the Gamecocks to a three seed in the SEC tournament at best.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
For Tennessee, it had to be Tony Delmonico who went 3-for-4, with two runs driven in. The Gamecocks were led by Justin Smoak, who also drove in two. James Darnell was the only Gamecock to have multiple hits in the game, going 2-for-4.
TURNING POINT OF THE GAME:
You wouldn't have to look far. The Tennessee Volunteers hung three runs on the board n the bottom of the first. It sent the Gamecocks reeling into comeback mode all night. Coming in a very close second place is Travis Jones getting caught leaning before the Smoak home run.
Not only did Justin Smoak re-claim the team lead in home runs, hitting his 17th, but Phil Disher entered the home run race himself. Disher hit his 12th of the season in the fourth inning.
Two more Gamecock home runs give them 95 on the year, the eighth highest in Gamecock history. They knocked the 1997 squad back to ninth place, surpassing their total of 94.
Harris Honeycutt's eight walks were the most issued by any Gamecock pitcher this year as were his 128 pitches.
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