Gamecock bats blast Old Dominion 13-3
Nick Ebert is definitely developing a flair for the dramatic.
For the second night in a row, the Ocala, Fla native launched a three-run home run that sparked the South Carolina offense as the Gamecocks came back for a 13-3 win over Old Dominion.
Ebert's torrid pace continues as he earned his sixth straight start after beginning the season on the bench. In six games, Ebert has hit five home runs for a .421 batting average with 13 RBI. The five home runs puts him one behind DeAngelo Mack for the team lead.
"D-Mack knows I'm right on his toes. He knows," Ebert said. "I'm keeping my hands back and going the other way with the ball. That just means I'm seeing the ball real well."
After falling behind 3-0 to the Monarchs (3-9) in the first inning, the Gamecocks (10-1) made sure the lead wouldn't last long as Whit Merrifield and Mack reached base on a walk and single respectively.
That's when Ebert cranked a ball just to the right of the batter's eye in centerfield and tied the game at 3-3. For Ebert, it was the second straight night he had hit a three-run homer to center after the opposing team had taken the lead in the top half of the inning. That shot opened the floodgates as catcher Justin Dalles followed Ebert's shot with a ball that landed halfway up the bleachers in leftfield, breaking the tie for a 4-3 USC lead. Carolina added three more runs in the inning and cruised ahead to a 7-3 lead.
"It was a changeup. The guy left it right over the middle of the plate and I just tried to stay back on it and I made a good swing," Dalles said of his go-ahead home run. "It just got us fired up. Them coming to our park and doing that kind of lit a fire under us."
Though starter Adam Westmoreland had gotten off to a shaky start in the first, the seven run answer in the bottom half of the frame gave him a renewed sense of confidence as he only allowed one base runner in each of his next three innings worth of work. For the freshman from Brookland-Cayce, it was his second win of the season and his first as a starter.
"I just had a little trouble locating, finding the zone. Thank goodness they came in and answered," Westmoreland said. "Fastballs were the only pitch I really had decent command of tonight. Curve ball really wasn't there and whenever we got the lead it was just kind of pitch with the lead and play to win."
The lead continued to grow for USC as they added a run in each of the next two innings. Andrew Crisp's second home run of the year put the Gamecocks up 8-3 in the second and a Mack RBI single added the other in the third to put Carolina ahead 9-3.
The Gamecocks used another big inning in the fifth to tack four more runs on the scoreboard as back-to-back doubles by Dalles and Jeffery Jones brought home a total of three runners. The last run of the game came later in the inning as Scott Wingo drew a bases loaded walk to give USC the 13-3 cushion.
"We're going to hit the ball. Like coach Tanner said, on this team everyone can hit the ball. If someone's not on one night we can put a guy in that can get the job done," Ebert said of the team's hitting.
Carolina used two more freshman pitchers to close out the night as Matt Price made his second appearance in four days and Brandon Miller made his first appearance of the season. The duo combined for five innings of shutout baseball and allowed just four hits and two walks.
The Gamecocks will close out their eight game home stand tomorrow night as they host Wofford at 7 p.m. before traveling to Starkville over the weekend to play Mississippi State.
- Ebert and Dalles' back-to-back home runs were the third time this season the Gamecocks have gone back-to-back in a game.
- The Gamecocks have now hit a home run in all 11 games this year, including multiple homers in five of them. The team now has a total of 21 long balls on the season.
- USC batted around twice in the game making it the first time all year the team has batted around.
- Old Dominion issued 10 walks on the night while only striking out three. Four of those walks went to Ebert in the No. 3 hole and another three went to Wingo in the ninth spot.
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