Gamecocks Sweep Dawgs in 6-1 Finale

South Carolina first baseman Nick Ebert continued to take aim as the Georgia pitching staff as the junior was responsible for both of USC's runs in Saturday's 2-0 win over the Bulldogs to secure a series sweep. Ebert also continued his home run barrage as his solo shot in the fourth inning gave him a total of 22 home runs on the season. USC now heads to Hoover, Alabama for the SEC Tournament.

When South Carolina first baseman Nick Ebert started the season he seemed like a man who couldn't get off the bench. But as Saturday's season finale against Georgia drew to a close, Ebert had become a man the opposing team couldn't keep off the field. And for the most part, couldn't keep in the park.

Ebert finished his weekend on the same offense tear he started on as the junior went 2-for-3 with two RBI for the first of USC's runs as the Gamecocks picked up a 6-1 win over Georgia to sweep the season series. Not bad for a player who started the season watching rather than playing. "He's a joy to coach but he wasn't performing. He had a dismal fall, he just wasn't in the mix. He didn't perform well enough to get any consideration for playing time. In the preseason he was not very good," USC coach Ray Tanner said.

"It seemed like when we moved him a couple of weeks prior to our opener (from third to first) he became more comfortable offensively. That doesn't make any sense. But it seemed to happen that way. So he had a couple of good scrimmages but we went with Jeffery (Jones) at the beginning of the year and after a few games we gave him a chance. He had some good at-bats and of course the rest is history."

The weekend started with Ebert hitting a two-run and grand slam homer for a six RBI day that gave USC (37-19, 17-13 SEC) a 7-4 win. His runs scoring showcase continued on Friday with another two-run home run that was followed by two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

The status quo remained the same in Saturday's game as Ebert started the game off with the Gamecocks' first run on an RBI single after a DeAngelo Mack single and advance to second. Ebert made it 2-0 in the fourth as he started off the inning with a solo home run that seemed to deflate the Georgia (35-20, 15-15 SEC) dugout.

For the weekend, Ebert finished 5-for-8 for a .625 average with 10 RBI on four home runs. He was issued three walks and was hit twice. Since the start of May, Ebert has gone 14-for-37 with 22 RBI, 15 runs scored, 11 walks and four hit-by-pitches. Coincidently, that 11 game span has also seen the Gamecocks win 10 games including the six game streak they're on now.

In his first season with the Gamecocks, Ebert joins a list of just eight players with 20-plus home runs in a season with 22 thus far. Of his grand total, 17 have come at home including eight in the last two SEC weekend series with Vanderbilt and Georgia. The even surprise the Florida native, especially after the season started.

"By far. I don't think anyone expected me to hit 15. That was kind of the mark I was shooting for coming in but I surpassed that and definitely surpassed all my expectations," Ebert said.

The Gamecocks used Ebert's two early runs to stay ahead of the Bulldogs for much of the game. Georgia finally made a rally attempt in the eighth inning as leadoff walk to Johnathan Taylor resulted in a run on back-to-back groundouts to trim the lead down to 2-1. But USC added the exclamation point to the weekend with an offensive bottom half of the inning that started with a walk to Ebert. After catcher Kyle Enders struck out, senior Andrew Crisp got a double to left for his first hit of the series. An Adam Matthews groundout to third put two away and brought the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the lineup to the plate.

Shortstop Bobby Haney hit a ball down the line in left that just missed being a double by inches putting him back in the batter's box with a 1-2 count. But reliever Dean Weaver left the same pitch in the same spot for Haney who took it the same way only this time it was a double that scored two runs. The Gamecocks capped their big eighth inning as Scott Wingo stepped up and notched hit No. 24 on the season with a no-doubt, two-run shot to right field for his fourth home run of the year.

"It felt good. I'm glad I closed it out like that. It's about time," Wingo said. "I'm just glad I hit and dang, I told my grandma I was like I save the best for last."

With a seven game win streak going into Hoover, the Gamecocks will call on either Blake Cooper or Adam Westmoreland to start the first game against Alabama on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. But for Tanner, the current ride something he is savoring as long as he can.

"I'm extremely proud of our team and the way we finished the regular season. From where we were three weeks ago to where we are today has been a dramatic turn for us," Tanner said. "I can't say enough good things about our pitching staff, the hitters, the defense has been good. We've been able to play our best baseball at the most critical time of the year and I'm ecstatic."

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