Havens, Gamecocks win 10-inning thriller
Playing their first season in Division I, Presbyterian was not expected to be much of a challenge for the Gamecocks. However, the Blue Hose had already played David to a Goliath this season when they beat Charlotte 5-2. That same Charlotte squad scorched South Carolina 11-2.
"That is the perception [that we should blow out Presbyterian]," Ray Tanner said. "They are 5-5 and they beat Charlotte. This was certainly not anything that I didn't expect. I knew that we were going to have our hands full."
The story early on was the Gamecocks' inability to capitalize on scoring opportunities. In the first five innings, Carolina left 9 men on base, and tied a season-high with 13 left on base for the game. Presbyterian's Daniel Hill pitched extremely well. Despite walking five batters, and loading the bases twice, Hill pitched out of trouble each time.
"They pitched extremely well," said Tanner. "They made great pitches when they needed to and kept them in the game and kept us off the board. If there is one thing that I can complain about, we don't need to go to two strikes 18 or 19 times in a game. That's too much. You can make an out without making it two strikes. We might make a lot of quick outs tomorrow night, but I think we're going to be swinging earlier."
The Blue Hose took the lead in the third when William Bolcholz hit a solo shot to left field. It was the third homer Gamecock starter Craig Thomas has given up this year. In the bottom of the inning, with the bases loaded and one out, both James Darnell and Justin Smoak struck out looking. Then in the fourth, Carolina loaded the bases with two outs, but Reese Havens flied out to left to end that threat.
"You can chastise our guys for not coming through in the clutch," Tanner said, "but their guys made pitches. It's a fine line. We were lucky to be able to win."
The Gamecocks finally broke through in the fifth inning. Scott Wingo was hit by a pitch, to start the inning, and was standing on third with one out when Kyle Enders came to the plate. Presbyterian called to the bullpen for Michael Odom, who immediately gave up a single to Enders that scored Wingo home and tied the game.
Curtis Johnson came in to pitch for Carolina in the sixth, and neither team threatened again until the bottom of the ninth, when Wingo drew a walk, and Darnell singled to give the Gamecocks two men on with one out. Presbyterian moved starting right fielder Jesse Harmon to the mound, where he promptly struck out Smoak. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, but Enders hit a weak ground ball to third that ended the inning.
"Our guys came out and pitched tonight," said Presbyterian coach Elton Pollock. "That's something that we work on pretty hard, trying to keep people off balance, pitching backwards for the most part, and being able to throw that thing for a strike, especially against a team that can hit as well as USC."
With one out in the tenth inning, slumping Phil Disher drilled a ball to the wall in centerfield for a lead off double. Adam Crisp came in to pinch run for Disher, and Andrew Crisp was walked intentionally to set up the double play. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, so Whit Merrifield was walked to again set up the double play, but that brought the Gamecocks' leading hitter, Havens to the plate. Havens drilled an 0-1 pitch back up the middle and just off the second baseman's glove to score Crisp and win the game.
"It was a pretty good pitch," Havens said. "We had a bunch of chances tonight to win, and finally got it done. It's a great spot to be in [with] guys on base. That's where a hitter wants to be."
- Wingo was hit by a pitch for the tenth time this season, one shy of the freshman record of 11.
- Thomas struck out a career-high six batters. His previous high was four, against Vanderbilt last year.
- Havens' game-winning single was his only hit of the game, and kept alive his hitting streak. He has hit safely in all 11 games this season.
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