Notebook: Pitching staff dominates UGA

After a season of ups and downs from the arms on the mound, the South Carolina pitching staff completed the weekend sweep of Georgia with another solid outing as three pitchers combined to hold the Bulldogs to just one run on five hits in Saturday's season finale. The weekend effort was one of the most complete performances by a USC staff in school history.

South Carolina starting pitcher Blake Cooper started off the second inning with a swinging strikeout of Georgia right fielder Lyle Allen. The response from the crowd at Carolina Stadium seemed almost less than enthusiastic. But who can blame them as the strikeout had become almost commonplace over the course of the weekend.

Cooper, along with relievers Jay Brown and Curtis Johnson combined to strikeout six Georgia players in Saturday's 6-1 victory to complete the series sweep. Over the course of the weekend, seven USC pitchers combined to strikeout a total of 34 batters making it the most strikeouts for the pitching staff this season. The previous high had been 31 in the opening weekend sweep of Duquesne to start the year. The high for an SEC weekend series came in the first weekend of conference play against Mississippi State when the pitchers combined to strikeout 29.

"Dyson struck out what 13 and Belcher struck out 10 or 11 and we ended with 15 K's last night. And Coop battled for us early and they CuJo finished out strong with exclamation point. But his weekend was definitely something to be proud of," Brown said. "Fortunately we were able to make some pitches when it counted."

Coming into the weekend, Georgia was posting a .301 batting average and was averaging over 7.5 runs per game. But the Bulldogs finished the weekend just 16-for-93 for a .172 average with only seven runs and 14 walks. After earning two wins prior to the USC series, Georgia has now lost 11 of their last 13 games as they limp into in a probable No. 6 seed in the SEC Tournament next week.

Meanwhile, the USC staff has picked the team up for 10 wins in the last 11 games and will finish as the No. 2 team in the SEC Eastern Division. It is the fourth time since 2004 the Gamecocks have finished second in the division and the first time since 2007.

"We were focused and determined. When we struggled this season there was something that we knew we had it in us to come out and have a weekend like this and it wasn't anything that we were discouraged," Brown said. "We knew it was going to come and we were just hoping it would come at the right time and right now it's coming and it's exciting."

Home field status remains unchanged

When the baseball team made the move from Sarge Frye field to the new Carolina Stadium there was some thought that the new park might affect the team's play. After one complete regular season, it doesn't look like much has changed despite the new facility.

For the ninth straight season, the Gamecocks have garnered a 26-plus home win record every year since 2000 and nothing changed this year as they finished the season with a 26-9 this year.

The home run totals don't appear to be slumping either as Carolina notched 69 long balls this season as compared to 63 last spring. Ebert's 22 home run season give USC three straight years with a 20-plus home run hitter for the last three seasons and in eight seasons since 2000.

"I loved it. I loved everything about it and obviously I loved the last few games where our fans were here. I think it's a great environment for college baseball and you know we've got to do a better job with the atmosphere but you hit a few home runs, get a few in the corners and they'll go out. It plays a little deeper in the middle. I think it's great," Tanner said. "I'd like to keep it alive like it was today and last night. I'd like to have the kind of team that those people will come see play."

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