Greenville, S.C. - South Carolina pounded out a season-high 22 hits and scored in six of nine innings at the plate on its way to a 15-0 victory over Furman on Wednesday evening at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. The offense backed up a solid start by Gamecock junior right-hander Blake Cooper, who worked six scoreless innings and combined with four relief pitchers to limit the Paladins to two hits to earn the victory and Carolina's second straight shutout this week. Carolina improves to 13-4 on the year while the loss drops the Paladins to 8-8 for the season.
South Carolina's 22-hit total ties for the ninth highest total of hits by a Carolina team under head coach Ray Tanner. It is the most hits by the South Carolina since March 23, 2007 when the Gamecocks totaled 25 hits at Mississippi State. 12 different players recorded at least one hit. Nick Ebert continued swinging his hot bat with a 3-for-3 day at the plate with two runs scored and two RBI. He is now hitting .513 for the season. DeAngelo Mack was also 3-for-5 and tied his career-high with four RBI. Scott Wingo tied a career-high in hits as he finished 3-for-5 as well at the plate. Whit Merrifield was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI. Also recording a multi-hit game was Andrew Crisp, who finished 2-for-5 with two RBI. Carolina out-hit the Paladins 22-2 in the game and finished with a season-high 33 total bases.
Cooper, who struggled in his previous two starts, was in command the entire evening. In his six-inning stint, he tied a season-high with seven strikeouts and just walked one batter. Cooper did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and allowed two in his outing. Relievers Jay Brown, Will Casey, Brandon Miller and Jordan Costner combined for three hitless innings to preserve the shutout. Cooper is now 2-2 on the year. Furman starter J.P. Goldsberry suffered the loss and is 1-2 for the season. He went one inning and allowed one run on two hits.
South Carolina broke ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Whit Merrifield doubled to right center with one out and scored as Nick Ebert drove a single to left field to give Carolina the one-run edge.
That lead increased to 5-0 in the second inning as the Gamecocks batted around against Furman reliever Barry Benton. Carolina caught a break with one out as Furman catcher Matt Hemingway made a fielding error on a Kyle Enders strikeout that allowed Enders to reach first base to give the Gamecocks a runner on base instead of two outs. Bobby Haney followed with a base hit up the middle and Scott Wingo bunted for a base hit as the Gamecocks loaded the bases with one out. With two outs and the bags still full, Carolina scored two runs on Merrifield's second hit of the game a RBI base hit to the center. After a walk to Ebert, the Gamecocks scored two more from a RBI base hit by DeAngelo Mack.
Carolina had its second four spot of the game in the top of the fourth inning to expand its advantage to 9-0. Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit a one-out solo home run to right field, his second round tripper of the season. South Carolina has now homered in 16 of 17 games this season. The Gamecocks then put five consecutive batters on base with Mack driving in his third run of the game with a single and Andrew Crisp tallying two more RBI with a single. Crisp's hit in the fourth inning was his 200th of his career, making him the 22nd player in school history to accomplish the feat.
South Carolina reached double digits with a pair of runs in the fifth inning and added a single run in the sixth inning to extend the lead to 12-0. Bradley, Jr. recorded his second hit of the game with a RBI double and Ebert knocked his third hit of the game off the wall in left field with a double to score another run. Crisp doubled and scored on Wingo's two-out RBI single for the Gamecocks' 12th run of the game.
The Gamecocks tied the season-high for runs in the seventh inning with three more runs. Ebert reached base for the fifth time as he drew a one-out walk and scored on a RBI double from Mack, his fourth RBI of the night. Mack just missed a home run with a towering shot to the 420 foot sign in the power alley near center field. He would then score on a pinch-hit RBI base hit from Parker Bangs. Bangs scored all the way from first base on a RBI double by Enders that was also to center field.
South Carolina returns home and will be back in action with conference play this weekend with the first SEC home series of the year. The Gamecocks host nationally-ranked LSU with first pitch for the opener set for 7 p.m. on Friday night. Saturday's tilt will start at 4 p.m. with the series finale scheduled for 1:30 p.m., televised live on SportSouth. All three games are also available on the Gamecock Radio Network and at GamecocksOnline.com.
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