Saiko Helps USC Cruise By Charleston 10-6

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By Sports Department

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) -- No. 14 South Carolina pounded out 14 hits including home runs from Connor Bright, Joey Pankake and Graham Saiko as the Gamecocks defeated College of Charleston 10-6 on Tuesday night in non-conference action at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks improve to 28-10 on the season while the loss drops the Cougars to 20-16.


Freshman left-hander Vince Fiori earned his first win of the season after pitching 2.1 innings of relief. He allowed one run, unearned, on two hits and struck out two batters. Patrick Sullivan and Adam Westmoreland each pitched 1.2 scoreless innings of relief with Sullivan allowing only one hit and striking out a batter while Westmoreland allowed no hits, with one walk and two strikeouts. College of Charleston starter Player Loving suffered the loss and falls to 1-2 on the year. Loving pitched one-plus inning, allowed five runs on five hits and walked one.


The Gamecocks took a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With one out, Chase Vergason was hit by a pitch for a team-leading 10th time this season. Joey Pankake then hit a ball hard up the middle to put runners on the corners for LB Dantzler who drove in Vergason with a single to left-center.


Carolina scored four runs in the bottom of the second to go ahead 5-0. Grayson Greiner drew a four-pitch walk to open the frame setting it up for Bright, who hit his fourth homer of the season, crushing a ball over the left field wall. Back-to-back singles by Tanner English and Graham Saiko followed by a walk to Vergason loaded the bases and a pair of sacrifice flies off the bats of Pankake and Dantzler would bring home English and Saiko respectively.


The Cougars responded with a four-run inning of their own to cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 5-4. Devon Reed was hit by a pitch to start the top of the third, Carl Wise singled to put runners on the corners for Gunnar Heidt, who then drilled a ball past Pankake to bring home Reed and put the Cougars on the board. Brandon Murray sent a 2-1 pitch to deep left center field scoring Wise and a sacrifice fly off bat of Ben Boykin would bring in Heidt. With Murray in scoring position, pinch hitter Cody Martin knocked a double to the gap in right center field, driving in Murray and leaving South Carolina with a one-run lead.


The Gamecocks tallied two more runs in the bottom of the third to take a 7-4 lead over the Cougars. After Max Schrock drew a leadoff walk, Bright hammered a double to left-center, bringing home Schrock and tying a career-high with three RBI’s in a game. Bright would come home when Saiko sent a ball soaring over the College of Charleston second baseman for a RBI single.


The Cougars added another run in the top of the fourth cutting the Gamecocks’ lead to two runs. Reed reached base on an error, advanced to third on Butler’s double down the left field line and came home when Wise grounded out to Pankake.


A pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth increased the South Carolina lead to 9-5. Saiko doubled to the gap in right center field and then with two outs Pankake came to the plate and launched a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall for a two-run homer. Pankake tied a season-high with three hits in a game as well as a season-high three RBI’s in a game for the fourth time this year.


In the bottom of the eighth Saiko hit his first career homer for the 10th run of the game. He had a career-high four hits as well.


In the top of ninth, College of Charleston tacked on one more run to cut South Carolina’s lead to 10-6. Heidt hit a two-out double off the wall in left field and he scored on Brandon Murray’s RBI single.


South Carolina is back in action at Carolina Stadium on Friday night hosting Kentucky for a three-game SEC series. First pitch for the opener is set for 7 p.m. Game two on Saturday is at 3 p.m. and will be televised on FS Carolinas/FS South. Sunday’s series finale is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. All three games are available on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM, "The Game." It can also be heard at GamecocksOnline.com on the All Access Channel.

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