Gamecocks Blow Away Dukes 10-2

South Carolina (7-2) continued their dominance over the winless Duquesne Dukes (0-9) as three USC pitchers combined to allow just four hits and two runs, giving the Gamecocks a 10-2 win in front of 1,594 fans at a windy Sarge Frye Field Saturday.

Making his first start of the year, pitcher Will Atwood had a short, but effective outing giving up just one earned run and one hit through four innings of work. Atwood also struck out five. USC head coach Ray Tanner says he was happy to see his lefty back in the Gamecocks' starting lineup.

"He looked pretty good to me. His control is a little bit off and it cost him a few pitches because he had three walks, I believe. But he looked pretty good. He made some nice pitches, had a little bit of velocity, and we had the six-run inning that made a lot of difference for us." Freshman pitcher Parker Bangs (1-0) came on in the fifth to replace Atwood and pitched three scoreless, hit-less innings picking up his first career win in the process.

"He's got good stuff. I'm guilty a little bit with Parker, he's a redshirt freshman and I want him to be good right now," Tanner said. "He throws some good pitches. He misses the zone a little bit, but he's going to be a good one." Brandon Todd finished off the Dukes, pitching the eighth and ninth innings, giving up one earned run and three hits.

As the temperature dropped into the forties, the USC bats stayed hot as the Gamecocks pushed past 10 runs on 14 hits led by Reese Havens, Whit Merrifield, and DeAngelo Mack.

"We've got to try to get all those guys hot at the right time. But you're supposed to be good enough that you've got guys up and down the order to get some hits and that was the case today," Tanner said. "We've got a middle of the order that gets a lot of respect and some guys that can hit in-front and behind them, so that's good. I'm glad to see those guys at the bottom get on base and get some hits."

Havens continued his season-long clinic on hitting with a two-hit, four-RBI day. The junior shortstop has now hit safely in all 9 games this season and is hitting .487 with 21 RBI.

"I felt good up there and we've had some guys on base when I've been at the plate, so I just try to come through in the clutch and get it done," Havens said. "I think hitting is contagious and when you start it off, guys will follow and keep swinging it, and you put some runs on the board."

Mack continued to swing the bat well for the second night in a row. The Airport High School graduate went 3-for-5, including a fifth-inning home run which was the first of his career. Merrifield had a big day going 3-for-4 with three singles. The freshman center fielder also crossed the plate three times.

Duquesne starting pitcher Paul Bugajski (0-3) did not fare well against the Gamecock hitters as the sophomore righty gave up nine runs in just four innings of work.

After retiring the first three Duquesne hitters in order, in the first, Atwood worked himself into a jam in the second walking two batters in a row with 1 out. He would respond though, striking out left fielder Pat Kimutis and forcing catcher Dante Plassio into a groundout to end the threat.

The Gamecocks struck first with six runs in the bottom of the second. Right fielder Harley Lail got the rally started with his team-leading sixth double of the season to open the inning. After Mack flied out to center, Drew Crisp reached base on a walk.

Merrifield then lofted a soft single into right-center to load the bases for red-hot Reese Havens.

Havens delivered again, lofting a seemingly harmless fly ball to left field that got caught in the wind and carried all the way to the wall giving Havens a two-RBI double and the Gamecocks their first lead of the game.

Wingo then pushed past the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center field, before Darnell scored Havens from second base with an RBI-single.

A Smoak hit-by-pitch and Disher walk sent the inning full circle as Harley Lail came to bat again. Lail did not waste the bases loaded opportunity, lining a two-out, two-RBI single to left field to give the Gamecocks a 6-0 lead. The Dukes first got on the board in the top of the fourth after a lead-off walk and double put them in business.

Atwood struck out DH Mark Tracy, but pinch hitter Derek Fallecker flied out to right scoring Aaron Janusey on the tag-up. Happ also tagged up moving to third on the play and tried to score on a Wingo errant throw, but Atwood was backing up the play and fired home to get Happ and end the inning on a bizarre double play.

Parker Bangs came on for Atwood in the fifth and made quick work of the Dukes striking out five while allowing just three base runners in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings combined. The Gamecocks pushed their lead to 9-1 in the fifth when Mack hit his first career homer opposite field over the left field wall.

Drew Crisp followed with his second hit of the day, and promptly stole second. Merrifield put the Yardcocks in business again with an in-field-single up the middle giving USC runners at the corners with nobody out.

That would spell the end of the day for Duquesne starter Paul Bugajski as he gave way to reliever Lawrence Anderson.

Merrifield then stole second to give USC two in scoring position and like clock-work, Havens delivered again, scorching a two-RBI single to right. Anderson got out of the inning without further damage getting Darnell to ground into a fielder's choice, Smoak to strike out looking, and Disher to fly out to second.

The Gamecocks scored their tenth and final run in the seventh on a James Darnell sacrifice fly to center.

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