Senior left-hander Nolan Belcher and senior left-hander Tyler Webb combined for sixth ranked South Carolina's second shutout in the last three games and Joey Pankake homered for the fourth time in the last five games as the Gamecocks defeated Rider 1-0 to sweep a three-game series at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina is now 13-2 on the year with Rider 6-4 for the season.
Belcher followed up an outstanding performance last week vs. Clemson with another gritty job on the mound as he went seven-plus innings and allowed no runs on eight hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. Belcher has not allowed a run in 18 consecutive innings of work. He is now 3-1 on the year. Webb continued his success out of the bullpen to earn his fifth save of the season. He went two innings and allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out one batter. Rider starting pitcher Mike Murphy took the loss and is 1-2 for the season. He went 7.2 innings and allowed one run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Gamecock defense proved stellar the entire afternoon. Second baseman Max Schrock came up big with four strong assists to both sides on well placed grounders. In the second inning both Schrock and Pankake kept singles from going into the outfield to keep Rider from scoring. Belcher would come up with a strikeout of Ian Lindsay with the bases loaded to keep the game in check.
Pankake followed up his defense with success at the plate as he crushed a 1-1 pitch from Murphy to left-center for his fourth home run of the season to give Carolina a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Rider threatened in the seventh inning as Jerry Mulderig led off with a double followed by a base hit from Brian Donnelly to give the Broncs runners on the corners with no outs. Belcher coaxed Lindasy into a pop up for the first out of the inning. The Gamecock defense then came through on a squeeze bunt as first baseman LB Dantzler fielded cleanly the attempt by Mike Crescenzo and threw home to Grayson Greiner, who applied the tag on Mulderig for the second out. A fielder's choice to Schrock ended Rider's opportunity.
The Broncs kept coming in the eighth with singles from Eric Strano and Adam Wayman to open the frame. Carolina went to the pen for Webb and Rider moved runners into scoring position on a sac bunt from Justin Thomas. Webb dug in though and with runners in scoring position came up with a big strikeout of Greg Fazio for the second out of the inning. He ended the inning with a pop up to Pankake off a ball hit by Mulderig.
One more time, Rider mounted a rally in the ninth inning. One-out singles from pinch hitter Ken Kremer and Nick Crescenzo put a pair of runners on base for the Broncs. Webb would get the second out of the inning with a flyout to Shon Carson in center field by Mike Parsons. Strano came to the plate and battled in his at bat and after fouling off numbers two-strike pitches earned a walk to load the bases. With two outs and the bags full, Webb ended the game getting Adam Wayman to fly out to center field clinching the sweep for the Gamecocks.
Carolina was victorious despite being out-hit 11-5 in the game. Donnelly went 3-for-4 for Rider with Strano with two hits as well for the Broncs.
South Carolina is back in action on Tuesday night hosting USC Upstate. First pitch at Carolina Stadium is set for 7 p.m. Live video broadcast is available on the All Access Channel at GamecocksOnline.com. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM, "The Game."