Ebert powers Gamecocks to mid-week win

Another Charleston team came calling at Carolina Stadium on Wednesday night, this time in the form of the College of Charleston Cougars. Head coach Monte Lee brought his team ready to play, but the bats of Carolina and the steady pitching of Colby Holmes and the bullpen was too much for them to overcome, as they fell by a score of 6-3.

With 2 outs in the 1st, Parker Bangs got a quick single and advanced to second on an error before Ebert singled him around for the quick lead. Adam Matthews added an RBI single in the first to make it 2-0 after one.

In the third, it was Ebert striking again with two outs as he sent one high and deep to left field that went out to give the Gamecocks a 4-0 advantage and a lead they would not relinquish.

"He's got some quality bats and you get a green line on a 3-0 and you hit a homerun, you have to feel pretty good," said Tanner. "He's fought hard to get back into the situation and the thing I'm most encouraged about is he's having competitive bats."

The 4-run advantage was more than enough for starting pitcher Colby Holmes, who threw 5 quality innings, giving up just 2-earned runs before giving way to a cavalcade of relievers. Charleston would not get their first run of the night until it was already 6-0 USC.

In the top of the 6th, Cougar centerfielder Cole Rakar took Holmes out on a massive shot to left field, and after walking the next batter it was curtains for Holmes. He did pick up the win, moving to 2-0 on the year. Michael Roth would later pick up the save for USC as he threw the final 1.2 innings, including a perfect 9th, and didn't give up any runs.

College of Charleston starter Jake Zokan wasn't as sharp, as he got off to that rocky start, exiting after the Ebert home run made it 4-0. He took the loss for the Cougars, finishing with just 2.2 innings pitched, giving up 4 earned runs on 5 hits.

2 of Charleston's 3 runs came courtesy of the longball, as Rakar tagged Holmes in the 6th for a solo shot, and Matt Leeds took John Taylor out in the 8th with another solo job. Taylor pitched 1.2 innings in relief following appearances by Jose Mata and Steven Neff out of the Carolina bullpen.

In addition to Ebert, Bangs also had 2 hits from his DH spot, registering a single and a double, finishing 2-3 with a walk. Whit Merrifield extended his current hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the 3rd, and also contributed an RBI sac fly in the 4th. Adrian Morales picked up an RBI on a single for the Gamecocks that scored Bangs. It would be the last run of the day to score for Carolina.

Rakar finished 1-3 with a HR for Charleston, and Matt Leeds homer was his 13th of the season. Baker Knox knocked in the other run for the Cougars on an RBI double in the 6th inning.

Tonight's game was not only significant being an in-state matchup, but also saw the return of former Gamecock assistant Monte Lee, who is now the head coach of the Cougars. Lee was an assistant at Carolina from 2003 to 2008 under Ray Tanner.

After the game, Tanner detailed his respect for his former coaches and specifically the team that Lee brought into tonight's game.

"I have great respect for Coach Toman, Coach Lee, Coach Lake and Coach Meyers, all those guys," said Tanner. "It's neat to stay in touch with them and share information. But it's a little bit hard for me to play each other. I don't enjoy it that much. Coach Lee has one of the better teams we've played. They're dangerous. We're very fortunate to be able to win tonight. I thought Colby (Holmes) wiggled out of a couple situations that could've gotten ugly for us."

The Gamecocks now move the series advantage over College of Charleston to 42-5, after also winning both games against the Cougars a season ago.

The win continued the good work at home, and moved USC to 17-2 on the year inside the friendly confines of Carolina Stadium.

Overall it was win number 23 for the Gamecocks as they now move past the halfway point in the SEC and prepare to head to Nashville this weekend for a 3-game series with the Commodores. Vanderbilt currently sits 2 games back of USC at 5-4 in the conference after they lost the series to the Florida Gators last weekend.

"I know Vanderbilt's really good," said Tanner in describing his team's next opponent. "Their ERA is over 3, they've got power arms and they're scoring a bunch of runs. I think they're hitting around .340. It's going to be a tremendous challenge. An SEC game on the road will be very hard for us."

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