It wasn't the 24-4 beating they experienced a month ago in Columbia, but Tuesday night also wasn't exactly what College of Charleston baseball fans were hoping for in the Cougars' rematch with South Carolina.
The Gamecocks, the country's No. 2-ranked college baseball team, erupted for four runs in a bizarre seventh inning on the way to an 8-3 win before a sellout crowd of 1,719 at Patriots Point Field.
South Carolina improved to 29-7 overall and is now 44-5 all-time against the College of Charleston. The Cougars dropped to 23-15 and will play at 6 p.m. today at USC Upstate before returning home for a weekend Southern Conference series with Furman.
"This was a good win on the road against a good club," said South Carolina coach Ray Tanner. "Our bullpen gave us a chance. They threw seven scoreless innings. We bobbed and weaved and kept mixing and matching. That gave us a chance to win the ballgame."
"I was proud of our effort," Cougars coach Monte Lee said. "We had to battle. Our pitchers didn't throw enough strikes. I thought we played dang good defense."
Making sure they wouldn't be embarrassed like the previous meeting in Columbia, the Cougars drew blood first with Cole Rakar reaching on a one-out single and Rob Kral hitting a deep double
into the right-center gap to score Rakar.
The Gamecocks answered in the top of the second, scoring three runs. South Carolina loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk. College of Charleston starter Jake Zokan struck out Evan Marzilli for the second out, but Robert Beary's sharp single to the left side scored a pair of runs, and Jackie Bradley Jr. pushed across the third run with a single to right.
The College of Charleston responded with two runs in the bottom of the second. Freshman outfielder Daniel Aldrich hit his 12th home run of the season, clearing the wall in right center, to pull the Cougars within one. Then Rob Harding followed with a bloop single and Kolby Epley singled behind Harding to put runners on the corners. Jamie Holler's single to left scored Harding and tied the game.
Following a scoreless third inning, the Gamecocks regained the lead in the fourth. Marzilli reached on a a one-out single up the middle, advanced to second on Beary's single and scored on Scott Wingo's two-out single. Wingo's hit extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
The real story of the game, though, was the wacky seventh inning when South Carolina sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs with two walks, two singles and a double. Charleston pitchers also were charged with two balks.
Charleston pitching coach Matt Heath was tossed from the game by first-base umpire Mike Parnell for arguing a call the Cougars thought should have been baserunner interference when Christian Walker was advancing on Morales' single through shortstop, a play that resulted in the Gamecocks' first two runs of the inning. The ejection resulted in a highlight-reel explosion by Heath, who charged the field to continue the argument. Heath will serve a one-game suspension today at USC Upstate.
Peter Mooney's two-run double accounted for the other runs.
"The game was really in our grasp until the seventh inning," said Lee, who bemoaned a couple of missed scoring opportunities. "Had we executed in those two run-scoring opportunities, the outcome of the game could have been a little different."
Relief pitcher Bryan Harper picked up his first win for the Gamecocks, pitching 2 1/3 innings. Zokan, who went 3 1/3 innings, was charged with the loss.
E--Walker, Thomas. DP--USC 1, CofC 1. LOB--USC 10, CofC 12. 2B--Mooney, Kral. HR--Aldrich. SB--Walker, Morales.
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