Pomeranz powerful in game one defeat

A Miles Hamblin home run was all the support Ole Miss starter Drew Pomeranz needed, as he and the Rebels (37-20) shut the Gamecocks (43-14) down over seven innings to send them to the loser's bracket of the SEC Tournament. Taylor Hashman also contributed an RBI single for the Rebels in the 3-0 win. Carolina will face Auburn tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in an elimination game.

No matter how good an offense is, it faces one of its biggest tests in the cavernous Regions Park in Hoover, Alabama at the SEC Tournament.

Combine that fact with one of the best pitchers in America, and it was lights out for the Carolina offense in the shutout defeat at the hands of the Ole Miss Rebels. It was Carolina's first shutout since a 2008 game with Georgia, a stretch of 154 games.

Carolina falls into the dreaded loser's bracket, and will need three straight victories if they hope to reach the final here in Hoover.

South Carolina wasn't able to duplicate the success of their first matchup with Pomeranz, when they defeated him and the Rebels 5-0 on a Friday night in Columbia. This time, he silenced the USC bats, tossing seven scoreless frames while striking out seven Carolina batters and walking just one.

After retiring the first six Ole Miss batterss to start the day, Carolina starter Nolan Belcher ran into trouble in the third, allowing Kevin Mort to reach on a fielder's choice before giving up a monstrous shot off the bat of Hamblin. For Hamblin, the nine-hole hitter in the Rebel lineup, it was just his fifth home run of the year, but it was a big one.

The Gamecocks had their chances to break through against Pomeranz early on, but he was able to escape situations with runners on in the second and third to set the tone for a dominant day. In both innings, Carolina advanced a runner to third base, but was unable to get a two out hit in both cases.

Pomeranz came up big especially in the third, striking out Adam Matthews and Christian Walker back-to-back to end the threat after running into trouble with one down.

USC finished with six hits against the SEC pitcher of the year, but converted none of them into runs. He picked up the win to move to 8-2 on the year. Gamecock starter Nolan Belcher lasted just three innings, giving up both runs on the homer, while walking two and striking out three.

Carolina used five relievers on the day, beginning with Jose Mata, but Coach Tanner said his team will be fine out of the pen tomorrow.

One of the only positives of the day was Christian Walker extending his hitting streak to seven games with a leadoff single in the second.

The Gamecock pitchers would walk a tightrope over the middle innings, getting out of jams with regularity after Belcher departed the game in the fourth. Jose Mata came in and came up big for Carolina, striking out pinch hitter David Phillips and getting a groundout from Kevin Mort after intentionally walking the bases loaded.

Tyler Webb and John Taylor also got big outs with runners on in the fifth and sixth to hold the score at 2-0.

The Gamecocks lived on the edge for awhile, but Michael Roth couldn't get the final out in the seventh as Taylor Hashman stung him for an RBI single to increase the lead to 3-0. The trouble started with two outs when Smith singled off John Taylor's leg, and Roth couldn't handle a bunt from Snyder.

USC had its chances, stranding a total of eight runners on the afternoon. Brett Huber picked up his eleventh save for the Rebels, giving up just one hit and one walk over the final two innings.

It will be an early wake up call for the Gamecocks tomorrow, as they will face the Auburn Tigers in an elimination game at 9:30 a.m. central time. Auburn fell in a matchup with arch-rival Alabama in the first game of the day by a 7-1 final score.

Grant Dayton will get the start for the Tigers, while Carolina will counter with ace pitcher Blake Cooper. Dayton defeated South Carolina earlier in the season, but in that game faced off against Tyler Webb in the Sunday matchup.

Both teams will be hoping to not only advance in the tournament, but also to improve their chances of being a top-eight national seed when the NCAA field is announced on Sunday.

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