Ex-St. James star English helps Gamecocks sweep

Former St. James High standout and South Carolina freshman Tanner English made his presence known for the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks on opening weekend.

English went 3-for-11 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the weekend series to help the Gamecocks (3-0) complete their sweep of VMI on Saturday. South Carolina won 3-2 in the opener, then rolled in the nightcap for a 13-1 rout of the Keydets (0-3).

South Carolina’s bats exploded for 16 hits in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader and six pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts. Offensively, LB Dantzler tallied a three-run homer and TJ Costen added a two-run shot as five players tallied multi-hit games in the series finale.

In a tight 3-2 win in game one of the doubleheader, English notched his first college RBI. But his biggest contribution came on the defensive side when the centerfielder made a laser-throw to home plate for a run-saving assist.

“He can play defense, he can run, but he can throw with the best of them,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “We have had a few guys come through this program. You go back to Marcus McBeth, Jackie Bradley Jr., and now Tanner English and they can make a play. It is hard to get assists from the outfield. There aren’t very many assists in all of baseball from the outfield, but he came up with a big one today that gave us a chance to win.”

South Carolina’s offense provided more support in the nightcap as junior right-hander Colby Holmes earned the win with five scoreless innings of work. He allowed just one hit and struck out six batters. VMI starter Jeremy Brown suffered the loss after allowing one run on four hits in three innings of work.

South Carolina broke ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. With one out and English on first base, Christian Walker drilled a single into the gap in right-center to give the Gamecocks runners on the corners. English would eventually score on LB Dantzler’s RBI sacrifice fly to the warning track in left field.

Carolina batted around in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 8-0. Freshman catcher Grayson Greiner led off with a double and scored on freshman first baseman Kyle Martin’s RBI base hit. After loading the bases, Martin scored on a bases loaded walk to freshman second baseman Connor Bright. With two outs and runners on second and third base, Walker drilled a two-run single to plate home Bright and Tanner English. Dantzler followed with a three-run bomb to right field, his first homer of the year that gave the Gamecocks an eight-run cushion. Dantzler finished the afternoon with four RBI as well as five for the entire series.

South Carolina added three more runs in the seventh inning as well as two more in the eighth inning. Evan Marzilli would connect with a two-run triple with English driving him home with a sacrifice fly. TJ Costen stepped up in the eighth and drilled a two-run homer as well.

Kyle Martin’s 3-for-5 day at the plate with two runs scored led the Gamecocks. Marzilli, Walker, Greiner and Adam Matthews all had two hits as well. South Carolina hitters looked good at the plate with a .347 average (35-for-101) for the series. Marzilli was solid in the leadoff role the entire weekend batting .500 (6-for-12) with a pair of RBI and three runs scored.

The Gamecock pitching staff picked up where it left off last season with a strong effort the entire first weekend on the mound. South Carolina had 11 pitchers that saw action. They combined for 36 strikeouts and just four walks allowed in 27 innings pitched along with a 1.33 ERA. The VMI hitters hitting just .121 for the weekend with only one extra base hit and 11 total hits.

South Carolina returns to action next Friday as the Gamecocks begin a three-game series with Elon.

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