Gamecocks pound Cougars in 20-6 win

It was a hitter's clinic Tuesday night at Carolina Stadium as South Carolina pounded out 21 hits en route to a 20-6 win over the College of Charleston. The two teams combined for 32 hits and 26 runs in the game as four Gamecock batters notched three or more hits on the night. For more details, continue reading inside.

South Carolina shortstop Bobby Haney watched his first grand slam ever clear the wall in right field in the third inning. What he didn't know was it was also the first grand slam hit in the new Carolina Stadium.

"It was? D-Mack didn't hit one? I thought D-Mack or someone, wow. I didn't know that at all. So I guess that's awesome," Haney said.

Just as shocking as Haney's big hit – the Gamecocks' 20-6 dousing of the College of Charleston on Tuesday.

With all but one starter notching a hit during the game, Carolina (24-12) cruised to its second straight double-digit win over the Cougars (21-13) this season. USC won the first game between the two teams in Charleston 14-2 last month.

In two games, the Gamecocks combined for 32 hits and 34 runs to sweep the season series.

"We see the ball good against them I guess. We're hitting balls hard, we're not taking anything for granted against teams out of our conference, which is good," Haney said.

After the Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the first, USC responded with a five-run showcase headlined by three straight RBI hits from Nick Ebert, Parker Bangs and Andrew Crisp. Carolina tacked on another five runs in the third on Haney's grand slam which was followed by a Whit Merrifield solo homer on the next at-bat.

The monster hits kept coming for the Gamecocks as Adam Matthews led off the fifth inning with a solo home run to make it 11-3. Though it was his second career home run, it was the first round tripper he didn't have to hustle around the bases for. His previous homer was an inside the park job against Arkansas two weeks ago. Ebert added three more runs in the fifth with his 13th home run of the year over the leftfield wall.

The power hitting first baseman finished the night with four hits and a season best five RBI but wasn't worried about his statistics as much as the win-loss column.

"It's an accomplishment but I'm not a player that's goes out there for stats," Ebert said. "I'm a player that wants to win and help my team in every possible way I can. That's just a plus if I can lead different categories on the team."

The Gamecocks capped their scoring on the night with five more runs in the eighth inning. With two runs already across, Merrifield hit a two-out, one-run single and was followed by a Jackie Bradley, Jr. two-run double to tie for the most runs scored this season with 20.

That hit also finished a big night for Bradley who batted in the No. 2 hole and went 5-for-6 with three runs and two RBI.

"I had two strikes on me every single at-bat except for one. Got a little defensive, just trying to put the ball in play and just happened to put the fat part of the bat on the ball," Bradley said. "Coach had let us know before that they were kind of struggling a little bit so we kind of took advantage of situations, certain counts, jumping on certain pitches and just executing."

USC coach Ray Tanner said the change in lineup order and personnel, such as Matthews or Bangs, is something he takes into account every time his team hits the field.

"Sometimes you know you have a team where you just go the same way every day and other teams you think about it a lot. This is a team that I think about it a lot," Tanner said.

While the Cougars were a ranked team when the Carolina first faced them this season, a recent five game losing skid has seen them give up 85 runs. Though they are well above the .500 mark overall, Tanner knows his team should be proud to have impressive wins over an impressive opponent.

"We caught them at time now they're banged up a little bit," Tanner said. "We caught them at the right time. They pitched it really, really well through about 20 games and they've run into some problems there just like we have had."

Gamecock starter Michael Roth did give up nine hits and six runs in just over four innings of work but reliever Adam Westmoreland came on to allow just three hits over the next four-plus inning en route to improving to 3-1 on the year.

After splitting a weekday series with Clemson and taking 2-of-3 from Ole Miss last weekend, Tanner is hopeful this success is hinting at something bigger to come.

"I don't know if it's momentum. I hope it is. I've talked with this team a lot probably in the last two weeks about things that I think that they need to know and I think that they need to understand," Tanner said. "I'm hoping that we can just be a better team than we've been in the first half. … I'm hoping that we can make up a little ground."


-Andrew Crisp is now in sole possession of 12th place in all-time in hits with 226 career hits at USC.

-The Bobby Haney grand slam was the second of the season for USC with the last coming from Nick Ebert against Kentucky on March 28.

-Parker Bangs first inning double extends his hit streak to eight games.

-The Haney/Whit Merrifield back-to-back homers was the first such event since Ebert and Adam Matthews hit them against Arkansas two weekends ago.

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