COLUMBIA - Chad Holbrook didn't know what the wind chill was Tuesday night. Some details are better left a mystery.
It was far from baseball weather when College of Charleston visited South Carolina in Columbia. Flags whipped toward first base from left field, a cutting, bitter cold that had players huddled near the dugout heaters at Carolina Stadium.
On the field, there was no refuge.
Holbrook knew it would only get colder once the sun set. So when South Carolina opened with two runs apiece in the first and second inning, Holbrook thought it was a good omen. He was right. The No. 2 Gamecocks held on for a 4-2 win over the Cougars (16-9) despite being shut out in the final six innings.
"It wasn't easy to play. It wasn't easy to pitch. It was tough out there," Holbrook said. "I don't know what the wind chill was, but I couldn't wait to get that 27th out. It was cold. That's about the coldest I've been in my six years here."
The coach was pleased with how his players managed the cold as temperatures plummeted near 40 degrees. Following a disappointing weekend at Kentucky, South Carolina won its second straight game and 20th of the season.
It was the fourth straight loss for College of Charleston, which entered after a brutal weekend sweep at No. 17 Houston. Coach Monte Lee appreciated the way his team fought throughout. A quick 4-0 deficit can get ugly in a hurry against a team like South Carolina. The Cougars made sure it didn't.
College of Charleston entered the ninth inning trailing three runs. It scored once on Morgan Phillips' RBI single, and had the tying run at the plate before its final out.
"I'm pleased with what we did after that (early deficit)," Lee said. "I'm very pleased with what (starting pitcher) Tyler Thornton was able to do after having a tough first two innings, to be able to settle in and throw the ball well. I'm proud of him for that. All we can ask for our guys is when they fail, how do they respond? He responded after a tough first couple of innings."
Thornton allowed four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings pitched. Henry Chase added three scoreless innings with no hits in relief.
But for South Carolina, the damage was already done. Gamecocks third baseman Joey Pankake finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, enough to outscore the Cougars on their own.
"They did a really good job on a tough day to hit - where the wind was blowing in - of staying on top of the baseball and finding ways to score runs," Lee said. "We just could not find a way to miss (Joey Pankake's bat. He kept barreling the baseball up and hitting balls where they were pitched. We tried to go on, we tried to go out, we tried to spin the ball. He just stayed on everything today, and it's why he's one of the best hitters in the country."
South Carolina returns to the field Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game against Coastal Carolina at Carolina Stadium. College of Charleston will get ready for a weekend series against Northeastern beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at Patriots Point
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