There was some concern from fans about facing Presbyterian's best pitchers, Jesse Harmon, who had thrown 5 quality innings in his last outing against the Georgia Bulldogs, striking out 7 In front of a sparse crowd and under a cloudy sky, the Gamecocks took the field in their all-white uniforms with garnet hats.
Presbyterian came into the game with just a 1-6 record, and their spiral downward only continued in this game.
With two outs in the top of the 2nd, it appeared that Harmon might be settling in to the type of groove he had against Georgia. But after that, the Gamecocks went on a tear, scoring 8 runs with two outs to knock Harmon out of the game. In that inning, Scott Wingo added his first HR of the year, a 2-run shot into the bullpen in right center.
"Harmon's really good," said Tanner. "A week ago today he went 5 innings I knew it was going to be a challenge, but we were able to get some two out hits. It was nice to score some runs after not scoring many this weekend."
In his first home game since being reinstated to eligibility, Nick Ebert had a double in the big inning to drive home 2 runs for the Yardcocks.
It was the home debut for Ebert, as well as the first start of year for Jackie Bradley Jr. Both players contributed, with Ebert driving in two runs, while Bradley Jr. scored a run and had a walk and a double.
Although their offense was dominant early on, starting pitcher Nolan Belcher was equally dominant, throwing 5 innings of shutout baseball and only giving up one hit.
In the end, Harmon gave up 7 earned runs in his 1 & 2/3 innings of work.
An 11-0 lead received a boost in the bottom of the 6th inning when Whit Merrifield smashed a grand slam into the virtually empty left field stands. It was a small crowd for the Gamecocks, who had to reschedule the game due to weather, and faced chilly temperatures during the afternoon.
Also in the inning, Scott Wingo tied the career mark for hit-by-pitches at 34, with former players Garris Gonce and Michael Campbell.
"He's aggressive. He's had his share of hits (as well) and hopefully that will continue."
When it was all said and done, each and every position player that started for the Gamecocks collected at least one RBI on the afternoon.
In total, 4 pitchers combined on the shutout for USC after Belcher left in the 5th. Matt Price, Parker Bangs, Ethan Carter, and Colby Holmes all pitched an inning of scoreless ball to finish off the Blue Hose.
It was a confidence boosting win for a team that struggled at the plate last weekend, scoring 5 combined runs in the last two games of the East Carolina series.
"Our pitching continues to do a nice job," said Tanner. "That's been the encouraging consistent sign so far. We got a bunch of runs early with two outs, so that put us in the position we needed to be.
Next, the Gamecocks will take on Clemson in a 3-game series this weekend. The first game will be in Clemson, while the series will head to Greenville on Saturday and finally home to Carolina Stadium for the Sunday matchup.
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