Godwin, Havens lead USC over UNC Asheville
Senior RHP Nick Godwin (1-0) transferred to South Carolina (4-1) from Spartanburg Methodist Junior College for the 2007 season, but found it difficult to see the field on the talented USC roster. Godwin appeared in just four games last year and pitched just 4.2 innings. But after a solid offseason with a 7-4 record for the Columbia Blowfish of the Coastal Plains League, Godwin finally got his opportunity to start for the Gamecocks against UNC Asheville.
Godwin took that opportunity and ran with it, putting together a six inning, two hit shutout as the Gamecocks cruised to a 12-0 victory over UNC Asheville (2-3) in his first career start. The win is the first of Godwin's career.
"It was fun. I've always been a Gamecock fan my whole life so it was nice to go out there and get my first one," Godwin said. "I had a lot of defense behind me. I was just throwing it across the plate, letting them put it in play, and letting our offense get back out there and do some work."
According to Godwin, it was hard watching his teammates play last season.
"It was (frustrating) because I've been a competitor all my life. I've always wanted to be out there helping the team. I felt like I wasn't contributing at all. I just had to stick with it and work this summer to get back to where I knew I could be and get an opportunity."
USC head coach Ray Tanner was extremely happy with his senior pitcher's first outing.
"That was a quality start. (It) was our best start of the year. He threw three pitches for strikes and gave us a chance to win. We didn't get on the board too well early. We didn't have really good at-bats, and he gave us a chance to win."
UNC Asheville starting pitcher Taylor Wohlwend (0-1) was also making his first career start, but the day went much differently for the righty from California. The freshman pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 7 earned runs and walking five batters.
Wohlwend did not get much help from the defense behind him or his relievers.
The Bulldogs' pitchers struggled to find the zone for much of the day, walking a combined 10 batters and hitting another. The defense did not provide the pitchers much help either. committing 4 errors.
USC pushed across 12 runs on just 10 hits as Godwin got plenty of support from the offense and relief pitchers. Parker Bangs, Will Atwood, and Alex Farotto combined to keep the shutout intact.
Bangs, making his second appearance of the season, pitched a scoreless seventh, striking out two batters.
Atwood, in his first appearance of the year, mowed down the competition for a scoreless eighth.
Farotto came on in the ninth to close it out, but worked himself into a jam after giving up two singles and walking a batter. The junior lefty came through when it mattered most though, striking out left fielder Beau Zinman to end the game and preserve the shutout.
Offensively, USC was led by junior in-fielders Reese Havens and James Darnell.
Havens continued his season-long tear going 1-for-1 with a two-run homer (3) and 3 RBI while drawing 4 walks. The junior shortstop has settled into his leadoff spot and is batting .533 on the year with 3 HR and 9 RBI.
"He (Havens) goes deep into the count," Tanner said. "He's not a guy that usually goes up there and sees the first pitch and makes an out. If you don't throw enough strikes he's going to walk a little bit, and he's been swinging it pretty well. So far, so good in that one-hole."
Darnell had a fantastic day at the plate as well, going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. Center fielder Whit Merrifield also added 3 RBI for the Gamecocks, while freshman right fielder Justin Hopper had two hits.
After both pitchers held the opposition scoreless through the first two innings, the Gamecocks got the scoring started in the bottom of the third. Hopper led off the inning with a single to left, and Havens put the Gamecocks up 2-0 with a drifting home run over the left field wall.
USC added to their lead in the fourth due to some sloppy play from the UNC Asheville defense. After Harley Lail walked and Kyle Enders singled to start the inning, Hopper put down a bunt, but third baseman Justin Shumer misplayed the throw allowing Lail to score. A Scott Wingo walk loaded the bases and USC added another run after Havens was hit by a pitch. A Darnell single up the middle gave the Gamecocks a 6-0 lead through four.
It was more of the same as the Gamecocks pushed their lead to 11 runs with a five-run fifth inning. Wohlwend got two easy outs early, but gave way to freshman lefty Chris Brookey who struggled to throw strikes and lasted just two batters, walking both, and giving up two runs. Merrifield was credited with the RBI on the bases-loaded walk. Jeremy Hall came on in relief of Brookey and gave up another two runs on two hits from Darnell and Justin Smoak.
The Gamecocks scored their 12th and final run on a Merrifield sacrifice fly.
South Carolina will now turn its attention to a two-day weekend series with the arch-rival Clemson Tigers this Saturday and Sunday.
"The fact the Sunday game went the way it did will help a little bit (against Clemson), and we had a little trouble early today scratching," Tanner said. "I'm hoping that we're well prepared. I know Clemson has a great club and you know they played well in their opening series so we better be at our best."
The Gamecocks will play host to Clemson Saturday afternoon at Sarge Frye Field at 1:30 p.m.
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