Gamecocks Bully Citadel Bulldogs 10-2

South Carolina played host to The Citadel Wednesday night in the last ever non-conference regular season game at Sarge Frye Field. The Gamecocks pounced all over the Bulldogs 10-2, allowing Carolina to hault their three game losing skid. Read inside for more information on tonight's game.

The game couldn't have started off any better for a team reeling from three straight losses.

After pitcher Sam Dyson recorded three straight outs after starting the contest with a leadoff walk, the Gamecocks jumped all over Citadel starter Matt Talley (1-4) in the bottom half of the first inning.

Carolina (35-18, 13-14) batted around in frame as the Gamecocks recorded five runs on two singles and a whopping four walks.

Talley recorded only one out in the game, which, interestingly enough, was the first out of the contest when he got Havens to fly out to center. Ironically, Havens was also the last out of the first inning.

But after giving up a double to freshman Whit Merrifield, the southpaw walked both Justin Smoak, on four pitches, and James Darnell before designated hitter Phil Disher blooped a run-scoring single to left field for the games first run.

"We came out here and we swung the bats well," Merrifield said. "The pitcher was a little wild and we had a good approach at the plate. We took our pitches and the ones we got to hit, we hit them."

Talley's struggles finding the zone continued as he walked in two straight runs. That's when Citadel head coach Fred Jordan had seen enough, as he quickly went to his bullpen.

But that move didn't pay off for the Bulldogs (25-27), as reliever Timmy Martin's first pitch to Kyle Enders ended up being a two-run single to give the Gamecocks the five run advantage.

"It feels good to win after the weekend that we had," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "It just feels good to come out and score some runs early. It was sort of one of those games that we needed."

With the Gamecocks out in front with the early lead, Dyson (7-0) was able to pitch without much pressure on his shoulders.

"(I) controlled the game," Dyson said. "I was throwing balls down low in the zone. I was mixing it up a little bit. I had some help from our defense throughout the whole game."

That was evident, as the redshirt freshman struck out four batters in the first two innings, and seven for the game.

USC padded its lead with a run in the second when Merrifield walked to start the frame, then scored four batters later on a bloop single to left field by Andrew Crisp.

But the Bulldogs weren't calling it quits just yet, as the bottom half of the order got to Dyson in the top of the third. Batting eighth in the lineup, Brian Shubsda reached safely on a bunt single before the nine-hole batter, Kyle Jordan, walloped a two-run blast over the left centerfield wall, cutting the Carolina lead to 6-2.

But Dyson, much like he has done all season, didn't let the damage affect him, as he retired three of the next four batters to end the third inning.

Carolina would then go on to grab one of the runs back in the bottom of the frame, when Havens blasted his 15th homerun of the season over the right centerfield wall for a two-out roundtripper, in the process extending USC's lead to 7-2.

"It's always nice getting a midweek win going into the weekend," Havens said. "We got some guys on base early and that's what counts."

Dyson danced out of trouble yet again in the top of the fifth. With the bases clear and two men gone, he issued a frustrating walk to Bryan Altman.

The next batter, Sonny Meade, then hit a laser to the right field wall for a double, allowing Altman to reach third.

However, the youngster struck out Richard Jones for the second time of the night to end the threat.

An inning later, Dyson walked the leadoff batter before striking out Sid Fallaw before he was pulled.

The right-hander threw a staggering 110 pitches, 72 of which for strikes, in only five and a third innings.

He was replaced by junior Alex Farotto, who got two fly outs to end the sixth inning.

"Dyson threw pretty well other than the two-run homer that Jordan hit," Tanner said. "He pitched very well for us and then Farotto gave us a quality outing and Mike (Cisco) finished up."

The game remained quiet over the next several innings, as neither team dented the scoreboard well into the eighth inning.

The Citadel had an opportunity to scratch across another run in the eighth with a one out double. After the runner reached third on a wild pitch, Farotto struck out Matt Arnold to escape the damage.

Oddly enough, neither team scored after the third inning. It was eerily similar for the Gamecocks, would pounced on Wofford in the midweek last week with eight runs in the first three innings before going scoreless until the eighth.

However, the Gamecocks finally got some more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs and no one on base, Havens walked and Merrifield picked up his third single of the night before Smoak blasted his 20th homerun of the year to extend the Carolina lead to 10-2.

"That was big, because you never know in college baseball," Tanner said. "A couple walks, a couple doubles, and a three-run homer and it's a tie game. I've been there before. I've been on the other side."

For Merrifield, it extended his hitting streak to nine games and tied his career high for hits in a game with three.

Former starter Mike Cisco then came on in the ninth and induced a 3-1 groundout, strikeout, and a 4-3 groundout to give Carolina the 10-2 victory.

The win gave Dyson a flawless 7-0 record, something few Carolina freshman pitchers can say they've done.

"I didn't think I'd be 7-0, that's for sure," Dyson said. "I'm just happy to be apart of it."

The Gamecocks now have one day off before facing Tennessee in a critical three-game series at Sarge Frye Field beginning Thursday at 7 pm.

"We're going to be loose tomorrow. We're going to have a short practice and get ready to go," Tanner said. "We're at home. If there's anything positive about this whole thing, we've been a pretty good home team. We've got to take our shot at getting into the postseason."

The Volunteers snapped a nine game losing streak tonight with a 4-2 victory at Furman.

Carolina must win at least two of the games to qualify for the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama.

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