Paladins ride into sunset with win, 4-2

Fresh off a three-game sweep of the Mississippi State Bulldogs the South Carolina Gamecocks were looking to continue their winning streak against the in-state Furman Paladins Tuesday night. It was not to be, though, as the Gamecocks struggled to score runs all night, eventually losing 4-2.

Furman (12-8) starting pitcher Kevin Gaid had a great night giving up just four hits and two earned runs in five innings of work. Gaid combined with Ian Parry (WP, 2-1), and Nick Karow to hold Gamecock hitters to just two runs on 10 hits.

"You know Furman has always played us very tough, and they played better than we did tonight. We kept battling and tried to get it done, but they were the better team," USC head coach Ray Tanner said.

With the game tied at two in the top of the eighth Craig Thomas seemed to be cruising getting two quick outs on a strike out and fly out. But after a Marcus Rose single, Tanner elected to go with reliever Curtis Johnson. After Joey Rodgers was hit by pitch, Bobby Hubbard lifted a 1-1 hanging breaking ball to right field bouncing it off the top of the wall giving the Paladins their first lead of the night. The two-run double was enough as Furman held off a furious ninth-inning rally to take home the 4-2 victory.

The Gamecocks did not go quietly into the night as Phil Disher led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. After a DeAngelo Mack fly out, back-to-back singles from Reese Havens and Whit Merrifield put the Gamecocks in business with the bases loaded and one out. However, Furman pitcher Nick Karow was able to get out of the inning and earn the save (3). With the 4,589 fans at Sarge Frye Field buzzing, James Darnell smashed a liner right at the Furman second baseman bringing the Gamecocks to their last out. Justin Smoak then grounded out to second ending the Gamecocks chances at any ninth-inning magic.

"It seemed like we were playing up hill all night," Tanner said. "You just hope you keep it close enough and you're able to have a good inning. And we almost had one, but we ran out of outs there at the end."

The story of the night was missed opportunities as the Paladins stranded 13 runners, while the Gamecocks had 11 runners left on base. USC starting pitcher Nick Godwin (2-2) pitched well giving up just two runs (one earned) on seven hits through six innings of work. The senior righty allowed three walks and struck out seven. Godwin seemed to allow runners on base all night, but with the exception of a two-run fourth inning was able to keep the Paladins from crossing the plate all night.

Reese Havens led off the game with his sixth home run of the season, a towering shot over the second wall in center field putting the Gamecocks on top early.

Havens and Merrifield, USC's top two hitters in the order, combined to go 5-for-9 while the rest of the lineup went just 5-for-27.

Havens again scored in the third to put the Gamecocks up 2-0. After a Mack fly out to start the inning, Havens walked. James Darnell then hit a seemingly harmless roller to third that Bobby Hubbard threw past the first baseman scoring Havens and allowing Darnell to advance to third.

After a slow first third of the game at the plate, the Paladins came to life in the top of the fourth. Right fielder Campbell Lewis led off the inning with a walk and catcher Matt Hemingway quickly followed with a base hit giving Furman runners on first and second with nobody out. Jay Jackson laid down a sacrifice bunt that Darnell threw past Smoak, into right field, scoring Lewis and advancing Hemingway to third. Designated hitter Reese Wade tied the game at two with a liner to right scoring Hemingway. Godwin was able to avoid further damage striking out the next two Furman hitters and getting Marcus Rose to fly out to right to end the inning.

USC will not have much time to think about the loss as they come right back to Sarge Frye Field tomorrow as they take on the College of Charleston at 7 p.m.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories