More late inning heroics give USC 10-7 win

It was different day, same script for the South Carolina Gamecocks, who had to use some big late inning hits to take the lead from Tennessee after they made a huge charge to come back and tie the game. This time, it was a big 7th inning that saw the Gamecocks score 4 runs on 4 hits that made the difference and gave Carolina a series win against the Vols.

Early on, it appeared that USC starter Sam Dyson was going to bounce back from his rough outing against Brown with a dominant effort against the Vols. Through 4 innings he was almost untouchable, not giving up his first hit until there were 2 outs in that inning.

"From my mindset, that's what I need to do every time, and last week I didn't perform up to expectations," said Dyson after the game. "It felt better, so I just went out there and did it."

A 2 out single allowed Tennessee to break through for their first run in the 4th, and Dyson gave up one more run on another 2 out hit in the 6th before leaving the game.

The Gamecocks faced a tough effort from UT starter Bryan Morgado on Friday night, but the Vols only got 1 out from their starting pitcher on Saturday, as Aaron Tullo left the game after a walk loaded the bases with just one out in the 1st.

USC only got 1 run that inning, but were able to increase their lead on a Jeffery Jones double in the 3rd. It was the start of a big day for Jones, who drove in Carolina's first 3 runs and ended up with 4 RBI's and 3 runs scored on the afternoon.

"I got some good pitches to hit today and I put the barrel on it and good things happened," said Jones in describing his hot hitting today.

Whit Merrifield hit his 4th home run of the season in the 4th inning to run the USC lead to 5-0. But just like Friday night the Vols were not going to give in, and would come on strong to tie it in the 7th after Dyson gave way to Jose Mata.

Coach Tanner said it was a satisfying win, especially with how his team was able to answer the Vols charge as they did the previous game. "We played a nice game, we let them right back in it and then we answered back, so it was a good win for us," said Tanner.

The Vols registered 4 singles in their half of the 7th, several of them past diving Carolina fielders, and tied the game on a Matt Hamaker single after Parker Bangs had come in to pitch.

A wild inning that began with Tennessee tying the game at 5 ended with the Gamecocks scoring 4 runs of their own to go back up by a 9-5 margin. USC batted around in the inning, one where they tallied 4 hits to go along with 3 walks and 2 hit batters. Christian Walker overcame his early struggles with a key 2 out double to get the scoring started. His double drove in 2 runs, and Scott Wingo followed two batters later with a single that plated 2 more runs.

With a 9-5 lead in pocket, the Gamecocks would add a run on a monstrous Jeffery Jones home run in the 8th. The high fly ball to right soared over the fans along the fence and cleared the outer fence as well, eventually leaving Carolina Stadium. It concluded a big day for Jones, who got the start at DH. Nick Ebert was off today with Walker playing 1st base.

The Vols comeback attempt was back on in the 9th; with Cody Hawn knocking a 2-run homer off Parker Bangs. But it was all the Vols would be able to muster, as Bangs shut them down with two quick outs and ended the game with a big strikeout of Charley Thurber.

Not only was it an offensive showcase with 17 combined runs, but the action also got a bit chippy at times, as the teams combined to hit 5 batters, with the Vols hitting 4 Carolina batters. Head umpire Morris Hodges had to speak with Sam Dyson and UT head coach Todd Raleigh after Dyson forcefully tagged out Cody Stubbs on a bunt attempt.

With so many baserunners reaching on walks or by being hit, Tanner stated after the game that sometimes in baseball it just comes down to taking what the other team gives you.

"Baseball's one of those games you start trying to figure out why you won or why you didn't win, and they probably gave us more free passes, more bases than we gave them today."

Christian Walker was another Gamecock who led the offensive outburst in the USC 7th. Walker had an RBI double that inning and finished with a single in the 9th after starting 0-3.

"We're playing with more confidence," added Walker. "I know people feel like they're going to get the job done and if not someone else is going to pick them up, so it's just confidence. You play with confidence and play with a little bit of swagger, and it helps."

With a series win already in hand, the Gamecocks will go for the sweep in tomorrow's game. Tanner noted that sweeps are great, but it's really all about defending your home turf in SEC play.

"Would we like to have a great game tomorrow, absolutely," said Tanner. "McCray on the mound for Tennessee he's been lights out, so it's going to be a difficult task for us buy hopefully we'll play well tomorrow and get in a position to win."

USC will go for their 10th straight win overall and 9th straight at home in tomorrow's game. Bangs, who picked up the win for USC, said the Gamecocks are going to try to continue their hot play as long as possible, and continue to rack up wins in SEC play. He became the 10th different Carolina pitcher to get a win this year, on a staff that is hot and showing their depth almost every game.

"(We're) just trying to ride out the win streak, it seems like everybody's playing really well, playing really confident so it's good."

First pitch for the final game of the series will be at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. It was moved up 30 minutes due to the threat of weather in the late afternoon.

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