Gamecocks Complete Sweep of Duquesne

The Gamecocks completed a season-opening sweep of Duquesne with a 6-0 win Monday afternoon. All the scoring was done in the first two innings as the bats soon became as cold as the temperature at Carolina Stadium. DeAngelo Mack hit a three-run home run in the first inning and Blake Cooper pitched six scoreless innings to lead Carolina.

The Gamecocks completed a season-opening sweep of Duquesne with a 6-0 win Monday afternoon. All the scoring was done in the first two innings as the bats soon became as cold as the temperature at Carolina Stadium. DeAngelo Mack hit a three-run home run in the first inning and Blake Cooper pitched six scoreless innings to lead Carolina.

Official game time temperature was 41 degrees, but anyone sitting in the shade would have sworn it was closer to 21 degrees. Fortunately, the heavy winds that dominated the first two games were nowhere to be found. Although the fans, who were clustered in the sunny areas of the stadium, felt differently, the South Carolina players said the chilly weather was not much of a factor.

"Once you get out there moving around you really don't feel it," said Mack. "It's just when you sit still, that's when it starts to take over."

Cooper certainly did not mind the weather. He cruised through six innings, giving up just two hits while striking out seven and walking none. The hits came in the first and fourth inning. In the fourth, Bill Torre hit a leadoff single, and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. Torre was the only runner to get in scoring position against Cooper, and the first of only two Dukes to reach second base all day. Cooper left after throwing 75 pitches.

"I struggled in the fall and in the spring," Cooper said. "I've been giving up too many hits, and my curveball wasn't consistent like it was last year. I just wanted to come out today and get ahead early in the count, and luckily all my pitches were there."

"I think he's throwing it a little harder," said Tanner. "He can throw his breaking ball for strikes on almost any count."

Cooper had ample support early in the game. After giving up a one-out hit to Anthony Manley in the first inning, Rick Devereaux hit a long fly ball to left center. Mack sprinted over from left field to make a spectacular diving catch. Manley thought the ball had dropped safely, and continued around the bases. That allowed Mack to throw in to first for a double-play that ended the inning.

"The ball stayed up out there," Mack said. "I thought it was going to die on me. Luckily I got up and the guy was still rounding and I threw him out. It just carried over into my at bat."

"That was a SportsCenter play for me," Tanner said. "That changed the whole complexion of the game, if they get on the board there."

Feeling good after his defensive effort, Mack made good from the plate as well. With Jeffery Jones (double) and Parker Bangs (hit by pitch) on base, Mack swung for the fences. He swung true, and the ball landed in the Duquesne bullpen behind left-center.

"I feel pretty good at the plate. I feel comfortable and the ball looks real good," said Mack.

The Gamecocks added three more runs in the second inning, but far less emphatically. Justin Dalles and Bobby Haney singled to get things started, but from there Carolina got some help from the Dukes. Scott Wingo bunted back to the pitcher, Paul Bugajski. Bugajski tried to throw out Dalles at third, but his throw sailed past Manley. The error allowed Dalles to score, and Wingo and Haney moved up to second and third. Jackie Bradley, Jr. drove in Haney, and Whit Merrifield hit a sacrifice to right that scored Wingo.

The Gamecocks never mounted another scoring threat, showing the same offensive inconsistency as in games one and two against the Dukes. The weather, whether wind or cold, played a part in the slow offense, but Tanner is still concerned about what he saw.

"We had some quality at bats. We keep a quality at bat chart, and I think for the weekend we were on the positive side," he said. "I'd like to see us be a little more offensive. […] We've got to get better certainly."

With the comfortable lead provided by Cooper, Tanner was able to get a look at some of his bullpen arms. Grimes Medlin, Matt Price, and Parker Bangs each pitched one inning. It was the first action on the mound for each (Bangs was also the designated hitter for all three games). Each gave up one walk and had one strikeout. Medlin gave up a hit, and Bangs hit a batter.



Notes:
- The paid attendance was 5,953. The actual attendance was 2,589, a pretty good showing given the circumstances.
- Tanner noted that in an SEC game, Cooper would likely have stayed out longer. Cooper probably would have liked to stay out today: he was two strikeouts away from his career-high of nine, set against James Madison last year in the NCAA Regionals.
- The Gamecocks will return to action Saturday at Clemson. The same teams will meet Sunday at Carolina Stadium. Both games are sold out. Sam Dyson will start for Carolina on Saturday. The Sunday starter has not been named.

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