Sophomore right-hander Evan Beal retired 14 consecutive batters at one point and combined with three Gamecock relievers for a one-hit shutout as sixth ranked South Carolina defeated Rider 2-0 on Friday night in game one of a three-game series at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks improve to 11-2 with Rider now 6-2 on the year.
In only his second career start, Beal was outstanding as he went six-plus innings and limited the Broncs to just one single in the second inning. Beal struck out a career-high six batters and walked just two to earn his first win of the year. He is 1-0 on the season. Senior left-hander Tyler Webb posted his fourth save after pitching 2.1 perfect innings of relief with four strikeouts. Rider starting pitcher Tyler Smith was effective on the mound as well as he went the distance allowing seven hits in eight innings of work. He struck out eight and walked just one. He is 2-1 on the year.
South Carolina broke ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning with an unearned run off of Smith. George Iskenderian reached base with a one-out single up the middle. With two outs and Iskenderian on first base, Graham Saiko knocked a hard grounder that Rider third baseman Adam Wayman snagged. Wayman would throw low though over to first base with the ball getting past first baseman Justin Thomas. Iskenderian, who was running on a 3-2 count, kept hustling and scored all the way from first base after the throwing error to give the Gamecocks a one-run lead.
Carolina increased the lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth. Three consecutive one-out hits led to the run as Saiko reached on an infield single, advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit and run with Chase Vergason and scored on Joey Pankake's RBI base hit through the left side.
Rider's best chance to score came in the seventh inning. Consecutive walks to Adam Wayman and Justin Thomas opened the seventh inning. With Forrest Koumas in relief of Beal, the Gamecocks would get two outs on a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Justin Thomas. With two outs and runners on the corners, Webb relieved Vince Fiori and struck out Greg Fazio to keep Carolina ahead by a pair of runs.
South Carolina had seven hits in the contest. Saiko and Vergason each went 2-for-4. The shutout victory marked Carolina's third shutout in the last four games.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m.