A four-run fifth inning helped lift eighth-ranked South Carolina to a 6-1 win over USC Upstate on Wednesday night in non-conference action at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks improve to 32-10 on the year while the loss drops the Spartans to 14-30.
Kyle Martin went 4-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Joey Pankake went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Martin tied a career-high in hits as did Gene Cone, who went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. The top four hitters in the Gamecock lineup recorded all 11 hits in the contest for Carolina.
Sophomore right-hander Curt Britt earned the win in relief and improves to 2-0 on the year. Britt worked 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out three batters. Senior right-hander Hunter Privette added three perfect innings of relief, striking out two batters. Starting pitcher Eric Birklund suffers the loss for USC Upstate and falls to 0-7 on the year.
The Spartans broke ahead 1-0 in the first inning taking advantage of a pair of Gamecock errors. After Tyler Lesch drew a leadoff walk, AJ Mackey reached base on a fielding error by Joey Pankake, pushing Lesch to second and both runners then advanced on a throwing error by Logan Koch. Luke Weber drove in Lesch with a RBI sacrifice fly to right field.
South Carolina mounted some offense in the bottom of the fifth, scoring four runs and claiming the lead. After a pair of walks to Tanner English and Marcus Mooney, the Gamecocks attempted a double steal but English was thrown out at third base. With a runner still in scoring position, Gene Cone singled to center field and drove in Mooney to tie the game at 1-1. Back-to-back singles off the bats of Joey Pankake and Kyle Martin then loaded the bases and a walk to Grayson Greiner brought home another run for the Garnet and Black. With two outs and the bases still load a popup off the bat of Patrick Harrington was dropped by Upstate third baseman Brian Thompson allowing two more runs to score and give the Gamecocks a 4-1 lead.
The Gamecocks pushed across two more runs in the seventh inning to take a 6-1 lead. A pair of 1-out singles from Cone and Pankake put two runners on for Kyle Martin who ripped a double down the right field line, scoring Cone. Harrington then reached base on a fielding error that allowed Pankake to come home.
South Carolina returns to action on Friday, April 25 beginning a three-game SEC series with Alabama. First pitch for the series opener is set 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The game can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”