COLUMBIA, S.C. - Nick Ebert went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI as #8 South Carolina scored six early runs and held on for a 6-3 victory over #26 College of Charleston Wednesday evening at Carolina Stadium. The Cougars fall to 23-7 on the season and will travel to face Southern Conference foe Furman University this weekend for a three-game set.
South Carolina opened the scoring in the bottom half of the opening inning, plating a pair of runs of Charleston freshman starter Jake Zokan (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley). After Zokan retired the first two Gamecock batters, Parker Bangs singled to left field, but advanced to second when junior LF Jose Rodrigiuez (Hialeah, Fla./Broward College) bobbled the ball. Ebert followed with a RBI double down the left-field line and Adam Matthews took a 3-2 pitch up the middle to bring home Ebert and give the home team the early 2-0 lead.
The Gamecocks doubled their lead to 4-0 in the third inning as Whit Merrifield led off with a single through the left side, stole second and two batters later, Ebert took a 3-0 pitch from Zokan over the left field fence for his third home run off the season. The pitch would be Zokan's last of the evening as junior RHP Josh Salay (Rock Hill, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) came in relief and retired the last batter on strikes.
Single runs in the fourth and fifth innings gave South Carolina a 6-0 lead as Merrifield hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Kyle Enders in the fourth. A RBI single through the left side by Adrian Morales that scored Bangs in the next inning increased the Gamecocks' lead to a half-dozen.
Charleston broke through with a pair of runs in the sixth as junior CF Cole Rakar (Mt. Pleasant, S.C./Wando) led off with a solo home run to left on a 2-2 pitch by South Carolina starter Colby Holmes. Junior C Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) walked and sophomore 3B Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla./American Heritage) lined a single into right field to put runners at the corners. After reliever Jose Mata retired Rodriguez, the Gamecocks brought in Steven Neff to face junior 2B Baker Knox (San Mateo, Fla./Daytona Beach CC), who roped a RBI double to left center, scoring Kral from third.
The Cougars added a solo run in the eighth, as Leeds took a 1-0 pitch over the right-center field wall for his 13th home run of the season and 42nd RBI, both team-highs. Leeds and Knox led Charleston with two hits apiece.
Zokan took the loss, falling to 2-1 on the season, allowing four runs and five hits in 2.2 innings with three strikeouts. Holmes improved to 2-0 on the season for South Carolina, scattering four hits and giving up two runs in five innings of work.