COLUMBIA - Chad Holbrook wanted to give his catcher a night off Tuesday. With a mega series looming at Vanderbilt, and a seven-hour bus ride before first pitch, it was sound strategy.
Except Grayson Greiner refused.
No way the Gamecocks junior catcher was watching his team go for its 40th win of the season from the dugout. Greiner has been South Carolina's catalyst this season. He was determined to crouch behind home plate once again.
"He said, 'Coach, I want to play, because getting to 40 wins is a big accomplishment,'" Holbrook said.
Greiner was in the lineup, as were most of South Carolina's regular starters, as the Gamecocks put a 10-1 thumping on The Citadel before an announced crowd of 8,054 at Carolina Stadium.
There was no shortage of motivating factors Tuesday night - even with what awaits this weekend.
The Gamecocks (40-13) reached 40 wins for the 15th straight season. They also avenged a 10-8 loss to the Bulldogs (20-32) last month in Charleston.
"That was kind of when we were reeling," Greiner said. "I think that was, like, our fifth loss in a row. We felt like we were rock bottom, and we were just playing bad baseball.
"It was just a clean game on our part. And it was good, considering they kind of beat up on us down there last time."
Holbrook didn't want his players looking ahead to Vanderbilt. He knew The Citadel could be dangerous if South Carolina was distracted.
So before the game, the coach talked about what happened in Charleston on April 16. There was no holding back.
"I tried to fire them up after the Missouri game (on Sunday)," Holbrook said. "(The Citadel) pushed us around last time we went down to Charleston. (My players) wanted to win tonight for a number of reasons. We practiced a day early - on game day - which you usually don't do. We don't do that around here much. So we got some early BP in before regular batting practice, and kids were bouncing around the stadium all day ready to go."
The extra energy showed early.
South Carolina jumped on The Citadel, scoring three runs in the first. It led 5-1 after the third inning and never looked back. Gamecocks first baseman Kyle Martin finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Leadoff hitter Marcus Mooney was 2-for-4 at the plate and scored three runs.
The Citadel used seven pitchers Tuesday. Each allowed at least a run, except reliever Ross White.
"They just didn't let us breathe," Bulldogs coach Fred Jordan said.
No Bulldogs players had multiple hits, a stark contrast to the offensive drubbing their lineup gave USC last month. On Tuesday, Reed Scott pitched a gem for South Carolina, striking out seven in seven innings and allowing just one run on four hits.
"The first couple innings, I was just trying to get everything under control, trying to hit my spots better," Scott said. "About the third inning, I settled down and started throwing better. My defense was playing well. Coach (Jerry) Meyers called a great game. It just felt good."