March 11, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Erik Payne went 2-for-3 with two RBI including his first career home run and six Gamecock pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts as second ranked South Carolina upended Princeton 3-1 to sweep a three-game college baseball series. South Carolina improves to 13-1 on the year while Princeton's record drops to 2-5 for the season.
South Carolina starter Colby Holmes hurled five scoreless innings with just four hits allowed to pick up the win. He is now 3-0 on the year. He struck out six and walked one. Freshman right-hander Evan Beal pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to earns his second save of the weekend and of the series. Princeton starter Matt Bowman allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings of work in the loss. He is now 1-1 for the season. He struck out two and walked two.
Payne gave the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning with a solo home run after crushing a 1-1 pitch from Bowman over the left field wall. It remained that way until the bottom of the fifth when the Gamecocks manufactured a run to increase the lead to 2-0. Kyle Martin led off with a double off the right field wall and after a sacrifice bunt by Sean Sullivan would score on Grayson Greiner's RBI sacrifice fly to left field.
The Tigers responded in the sixth inning with a solo home run from Sam Mulroy, his first homer of the year. Mulroy jumped on a 1-0 pitch from Gamecock reliever Nolan Belcher to put the Tigers on the scoreboard with a homer to left field.
With a 2-1 lead, Carolina got an insurance run in the bottom half of the seventh. Kyle Martin led off with a single. Pinch runner Joey Pankake would be sacrificed over by Sullivan and after a walk to Grayson Greiner, the Gamecocks would take a two-run lead on Payne's RBI double down the left field line.
That is the way it would remain the rest of the way as the Gamecock relievers held the Princeton bats in check. Along with six strikeouts from Holmes, the Gamecocks also had two from Belcher, two from Hunter Privette, two from Tyler Webb, one from Forrest Koumas and two from Beal. All 27 putouts in the game came with no assists in the field.
Martin was 2-for-3 on the day with a run scored. He finished the series 5-for-9 (.556) in three starts as a designated hitter. Payne finished the weekend series 4-for-9 (.444) in three starts at second base. The South Carolina pitching staff allowed just three runs on 18 hits for the weekend with 35 strikeouts and just three walks. It was a 1.00 ERA for the staff as well. Princeton batted just .182 for the weekend.
Princeton had six hits to five for Carolina. Alec Keller and Sam Mulroy were each 2-for-4 to lead the Tigers at the plate.
South Carolina will host a pair of midweek non-conference games at Carolina Stadium. Tuesday night the Gamecocks welcome Charleston Southern with Appalachian State in town for Wednesday night. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Live video broadcast is available at GamecocksOnline.com with the game also on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College.
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