Gamecocks break out big bats on The Citadel

For a team lacking in the power department, Tuesday night was a coming out party, as the Gamecocks smashed 5 home runs to help give Ray Tanner his 600th win at South Carolina. Starting pitcher Colby Holmes also worked 5 quality innings for the Gamecocks, and the bullpen held The Citadel scoreless over the final 4 frames.

"I'm just grateful to be the coach here. I've never made a play, never gotten a hit, never fielded one, so I'm just grateful for the former players and great coaches, just glad to be in this position," said Tanner after the historic win.

In the first it was Jackie Bradley Jr. that gave the Gamecocks a quick advantage, sending the first pitch he saw from Citadel starter TJ Clarkson over the wall in straightaway center for a 2-0 lead. Things went bad right off the bat for The Citadel, as Whit Merrifield reached on an error prior to Bradley's blast.

Robert Beary also added an RBI double to give USC a quick 3-0 lead after 1 inning.

The Gamecocks didn't pull their foot off the gas, adding 3 more runs in the 2nd inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. added an RBI single in the inning, and a wild pitch and bases loaded walk helped add to the USC run total.

Clarkson registered 4 walks in just over an inning's work, helping the Gamecocks add to that early lead. After last year's strong effort by Clarkson, Tanner was happy to get to him early and often in the win.

"Very much so (he was impressive last year)," added Tanner. "Clarkson still made some good pitches, but we were able to capitalize a little bit, I think he had 4 walks, that probably hurt him a little bit as well."

Quickly it was 6-1 Gamecocks, and any chance at repeating last year's dominance over Carolina had ended for the Bulldogs.

"Anytime we play it's always a good game, it's been a great rivalry," added Tanner. "The games are always good and I think both teams are always ready to play. We were fortunate to get some runs early and it held up."

Holmes gave way to John Taylor in the 6th, but not before he notched his first career victory in the effort, going 5 innings and only giving up 1 run on 5 hits.

"When it was 6-0 I wasn't all that comfortable to be honest with you," said Tanner. "Colby went and made a couple of big pitches when he needed to to keep some runs from scoring. I knew he'd compete, and he got 5 in, and I thought he made some big pitches when he got into a pickle out there. When he was in a couple of jams he had a strikeout and he revved it up when he had to to get some big outs."

In the 6th and 7th inning, the Gamecocks bats finally woke up after Citadel reliever Matt Reifsnider had limited them initially.

Scott Wingo led off the bottom of the 6th with his 5th home run of the year, tying him with Whit Merrifield and Jeffery Jones for the team lead. For a team coming up with unconventional ways to score this year, this only furthered the trend of strange offensive statistics for the Gamecocks.

It was only the beginning of the home run barrage for USC, as Jeffery Jones, Robert Beary, and Michael Roth all added solo shots to build the lead for Carolina. Roth's first big fly of the year made it 10-1 Gamecocks, and they would preserve that margin until the end of the game.

The Gamecocks will continue the parade of Bulldogs as the Mississippi State version travels to Carolina Stadium this weekend for a weekend SEC series. State brings just a 2-4 record in league play into the series, and will try to rebound Friday against Carolina starter Blake Cooper.

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