Scott Wingo felt pretty good at the plate Wednesday night against The Citadel, but the Greenville native has felt pretty comfortable when facing the Bulldogs' pitching staff this season.
Wingo had three hits, including two solo home runs, to lead 10th-ranked South Carolina past The Citadel, 10-4, on Wednesday night before a crowd of 4,087 at Riley Park.
The Gamecocks (26-7) have won 20 of their last 23 games heading into this weekend's SEC showdown with No. 14 Mississippi. The Citadel, which lost for the fourth straight time, dropped to 23-13.
Wingo, a career .211 hitter coming into the season, has three homers among his four hits in two games against The Citadel this season. Wingo, who hits ninth in the Gamecocks' batting order, is having a career season with a .337 batting average and a team-high seven home runs.
"If Scott gets into double digits in home runs, he's going to be difficult to live with," USC coach Ray Tanner joked after the game. "Scott does have occasional power and you think he's going to get five or six home runs a season, but he's got seven now with games to play.
"Scott has had two years where he was really disappointed in his offense. He has worked hard to become a better hitter."
Wingo said the gusty winds that were blowing out to right field at Riley Park might have helped.
"I think a gust of wind caught that first one," Wingo said. "The other I hit pretty good. I felt comfortable up at the plate tonight. I saw the ball pretty good."
The turning point in the game came in the fourth inning with the Bulldogs leading 2-1 with two men in scoring position and one out.
South Carolina reliever John Taylor replaced starter Colby Holmes and struck out Grant Richards and William Ladd to end the threat.
"I thought John's two strikeouts with two guys in scoring position was huge for us," Tanner said. "It gave us a chance to stay in the game. It gave us a chance to win."
Taylor gave up a single hit, a run, and struck out three to pick up his second win of the season.
"I was locating my slider pretty well and spotting my fastball," Taylor said. "I was able get those two strikeouts on sliders and get us back in the dugout."
It didn't take long for the Gamecocks to give Taylor a little breathing room, scoring five runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-2 lead.
Four of the five runs came with two outs after Citadel first baseman Justin Mackert mishandled a routine grounder that kept the inning alive for the Gamecocks. Jackie Bradley's run-scoring double and Jeffery Jones' two-run double highlighted the inning for the Gamecocks.
"You've got to make the routine plays when you're playing against a team like South Carolina," said Citadel coach Fred Jordan. "You've got to catch the ball against them, and unfortunately, we had a tough out and didn't make a play. They got two big two-out base hits that busted the game wide open for them."
The Gamecocks got another run in the sixth off of Wingo's second home run to push their advantage to 7-2.
The Citadel closed the gap to 7-3 when Bryan Altman, who led the Bulldogs with two hits and two runs, scored on back-to-back throwing errors. But USC put the game away with three runs in the eighth.
"South Carolina has a great club and we hung tough with them for a while," Jordan said.
--USC catcher Brison Celek, a former Bishop England star, pinch hit in the ninth inning and grounded out to short.
--USC third baseman White Merrifield had his 19-game hitting streak come to an end.
E--Enders, Taylor, Altman, Mackert, Greene, Ladd. DP--Citadel 1. LOB--USC 5, Citadel 7. 2B--Bradley, Jones, Marzilli, Greene. 3B--Plesss. HR--Wingo 2, Simonelli. SH--Matthews. SB--Morales, Orvin, Altman. CS--Thomas, Sims.
HBP-- by Taylor (Greene).