No. 11 South Carolina 6, USC Upstate 1
COLUMBIA - A four-run fifth inning helped lift South Carolina past USC Upstate on Wednesday night in non-conference action at Carolina Stadium.
The Gamecocks improved to 32-10. The loss dropped 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 South Carolina.
Sophomore right-hander Curt Britt earned the win in relief and improved 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 fell to 0-7.
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 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, Cone singled to center field and drove in Mooney to tie the game at 1-1. Back-to-back singles off the bats of Pankake and Martin then loaded the bases, and a walk to Grayson Greiner brought home another run for the Gamecocks.
With two outs and the bases still loaded, 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 one-out singles from Cone and Pankake put two runners on for 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 when the Gamecocks begin a three-game SEC series with Alabama. First pitch for the series opener is set 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium.
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