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No. 5 South Carolina Rallies Past Liberty in Game One, 8-7
The No. 5 South Carolina Gamecocks scored five ninth-inning runs for a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over the Liberty Flames in game one of a doubleheader, Sunday at Carolina Stadium.
Liberty drops to 0-2 on the year. South Carolina moves to 2-0.
After three scoreless innings, Liberty plated the game's first run in the top of the fourth. Right fielder Nick Paxton, who ended the Gamecock third inning with an outstanding catch of a liner against the wall, opened the frame with a walk. Center fielder Ryan Cordell followed with a single. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud then walked, loading the bases with no one out. A double play grounder by first baseman Alex Close scored Paxton for a 1-0 Flames advantage.
Meanwhile, Liberty starter Brooks Roy kept South Carolina hitters off balance, pitching five strong, scoreless innings on a cold afternoon. The right-hander yielded just one hit, striking out one and walking three, before giving way to reliever Matt Marsh in the sixth inning.
The Flames added to their advantage, batting around in the seventh and erupting for six runs. After having a runner thrown out at home plate early in the frame, Liberty received three consecutive walks to load the bases with one out. Designated hitter Danny Grauer, shortstop Dalton Britt and catcher Trey Wimmer all reached on free passes. A sacrifice fly by Sammy Taormina plated Grauer to extend the Flames' lead to 2-0. Two batters later, Britt scored on a fielding error by Gamecock shortstop Joey Pankake, making it 3-0 Flames.
Cordell followed with the big hit of the frame, a double off the left field wall to clear the bases and push the Liberty advantage to 6-0. Aanderud, the ninth batter to hit in the inning, then ripped a single back through the infield to bring home Cordell for a 7-0 lead.
South Carolina spoiled the shutout in the eighth, after the first three batters in the inning reached. Center fielder Tanner English singled to begin the frame, third baseman Chase Vergason walked and left fielder Graham Saiko singled to load the bases. Second baseman Max Schrock brought home the first run of the game for the Gamecocks with a ground out to first base. A sacrifice fly by the next batter, Joey Pankake, cut the Liberty advantage to 7-2. First baseman L.B. Dantzler followed with a run-scoring single to make it, 7-3 Flames.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the first three South Carolina batters reached to load the bases. After Liberty reliever Grauer walked the Vergason to push across a run, right-hander Josh Richardson was summoned from the bullpen. He walked Saiko to trim the Flames' advantage to 7-5. Shrock followed with a RBI groundout, slicing the Liberty advantage to 7-6.
After Danzler stuck out, pinch hitter Kyle Martin sent a liner off of Richardson to tie the game, and when Wimmer's throw glanced off the runner at first base, Saiko scored for the Gamecocks' 8-7 victory.
South Carolina outhit Liberty, 6-5. Cordell had two hits and three RBIs in the contest for the Flames.
Richardson takes the loss to drop to 0-1 on the year. The reliever gave up a run on one hit. He struck out one and walked two batters.
South Carolina reliever Adam Westmoreland records the win to move to 1-0. He allowed two runs on two hits and struck out two.