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The Gamecocks arrived at Foley Field on Friday night as one of the hottest teams in the country, though some naysayers suggest South Carolina’s resurgence may be attributable to a soft schedule. In any case, the Red and Black’s Alex Wood and the Garnet and Black’s Michael Roth were expected to deliver a couple of quality performances on the mound, and they did not disappoint, as the visitors carded a 3-0 victory.
It was a pitchers’ duel from the get-go. The only baserunner of the first frame was right fielder Hunter Cole, who carded a two-out double in the bottom of the inning; likewise, the second stanza saw a South Carolinian notch a two-out single in the top of the canto to get a man as far as first for the only time that inning.
Third baseman Curt Powell walked with two outs in the home half of the third stanza, and the Gamecocks managed a single with one away in the top of the fourth frame, but the contest’s first serious scoring threat came in the bottom of that same inning. Catcher Brett DeLoach knocked a one-out base hit to short, then swiped second and advanced to third on a groundout. Center fielder Peter Verdin chased strike three to strand the would-be go-ahead run 90 feet from home plate.
After a fifth canto in which neither team got a man as far as second base, matters got more interesting in the sixth stanza. The Garnet and Black registered back-to-back one-out singles, only to see the scoring opportunity squandered when the next Palmetto State batter grounded into a double play, after which Cole and DeLoach walked, and second baseman Levi Hyams singled to center field, to load the bases with one out, but Verdin and designated hitter Heath Holder both went down swinging to preserve the scoreless tie.
Two quick outs to start the seventh frame suggested that the deadlock would continue, but South Carolina third baseman L.B. Dantzler’s ensuing solo home run gave the visitors at 1-0 lead. The Diamond Dogs went three up and three down in their turn at the plate, and the floodgates (in a manner of speaking) opened, as a one-out single, a sacrifice groundout, and another base hit in the top of the eighth inning made it 2-0, and a one-out triple and a sacrifice groundout in the upper half of the ninth stanza extended the South Carolinians’ advantage to 3-0.
In between, shortstop Kyle Farmer drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth frame, but a strikeout and a double-play grounder erased the baserunner. In their final turn at bat, the Classic City Canines opened the home half of the ninth canto with two straight singles to bring the would-be tying run to the plate. The next three Georgia batters fouled out, struck out swinging, and struck out swinging.
Wood pitched well enough to win, fanning six, walking none, scattering nine hits, and conceding three earned runs in a complete-game performance. Unfortunately, as good as Wood was, Roth was better, pitching seven scoreless stanzas of three-hit baseball. Georgia’s leadoff hitter (Powell), cleanup hitter (DeLoach), and designated hitter (Holder) together went one for eight.