USC shuts out Duquesne to open new stadium

Beneath a cloudless sky Saturday afternoon, 8,153 Gamecock fans came out to new Carolina Stadium to get their first glimpse of the new ballpark and new ball club. What they saw was a beautiful park and a convincing 13-0 Carolina win over Duquesne. All told, Ray Tanner could not have asked for a much better open for his team and ballpark.

"It was emotional," said Tanner. "I was glad to get the first pitch thrown to be honest. It was truly a great opening day."

South Carolina wasted no time in establishing control over the Dukes. Sam Dyson threw a strike on the very first pitch at Carolina Stadium, and proceeded to strike out the first two batters en route to a 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom of the inning, Carolina sent all nine men to the plate and faced 54 pitches. Whit Merrifield drew a walk, stole second, and then scored the first run at Carolina Stadium on an RBI single from Parker Bangs, who went on to finish with a career-high three RBIs.

"I was glad to get on base and get a stolen base. I've been really working on getting my on base percentage up," said Merrifield. "I'm sure I'll look back on it, and it's nice to be a part of something like that."

Carolina would score two more runs in the first to take a 3-0 lead. The Gamecocks tacked on another run in the second, but the real fireworks came in the fourth inning. Following a walk, Duquesne's Brandon Carroll got the only hit off Dyson, a one-out double. Dyson was up to the challenge and struck out the next two batters on fastballs that ranged between 92 and 98 on the radar gun.

"I'm not sure that our gun was exactly right," Tanner smiled. "One of our guys was doing the gun and he said it was off a little bit, but he did throw some 92s and 96s. he was pretty consistent in the mid-90s."

Dyson would leave the game after five innings. His final line was 5 innings pitched, 1 hit, 0 runs, 2 BB, 6 K, 18 batters faced and 73 pitches.

"It was a perfect day except for the one hit," Dyson said after the game.

In the bottom of the fourth, DeAngelo Mack blasted a pitch to deep center for the first ever home-run at the new park. The two-run dinger bounced off the batters' eye in centerfield, something Tanner said had never happened before. Players wondered all week who would hit the first homer, and Mack did not expect to be the guy.

"My guess was Parker," he said. "It was a curve ball. The day couldn't have gone much better."

Justin Dalles would add the second home run at Carolina Stadium and inning later, and with a 10-0 lead after five innings, Tanner brought in the subs. Adam Matthews, Nick Ebert, Jesse Barbaro, Casey Rihn, Brady Thomas, and Michael Roth all saw action. Adam Westmoreland pitched three innings, giving up a walk and striking out four. Jordan Probst, the walk on who had been out of baseball for two years, pitched the ninth inning, fanning a pair.

"We got Jordan's feet wet a little bit," Tanner said. "He had been anxious."

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