Former Conway star Holmes hurls USC past Tennessee

Former Conway High standout and South Carolina junior right-hander Colby Holmes allowed just one run on four hits in a season-high seven innings and the 10th ranked Gamecocks batted around for four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on the way to a 6-1 victory over Tennessee to clinch a weekend series at Carolina Stadium.

South Carolina is now 23-9 on the year with a 5-7 record in the SEC. The loss drops Tennessee to 20-12 and 6-6 in league play.

Holmes did not allow a run until a solo homer in the top of the seventh inning. He struck out six batters and walked none to improve to 4-0 on the year. Tennessee starter Nick Williams suffered the loss and is now 2-3 for the season. He allowed four runs, all unearned, on three hits with in 4.2 innings with three walks and three strikeouts. Gamecock freshman right-hander Evan Beal pitched two hitless innings of relief with two strikeouts and two walks to earn his fifth save of the season.

The first four innings were slow for both teams on Sunday as Holmes and Williams battled back and forth for the beginning of the game. The Gamecocks though found their offense in the bottom of the fifth as Joey Pankake reached base on a walk. LB Dantzler followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance Pankake but Dantzler was also able to make it first on a throwing error by Williams.

Dante Rosenberg advanced the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Carolina loaded the bases then with one out as Chase Vergason reached base on a walk. Williams struggled with his control and walked Tanner English scoring Pankake for the first run of the game. Evan Marzilli made it 2-0 with a sacrifice flyout to center. Matthews and Walker added RBI singles to score two more runs bringing the score to 4-0 for the Gamecocks.

Holmes continued his strong day by striking out two of three hitters in the top of the sixth. The Volunteers would finally get some offensive production in the top of the seventh inning as Tennessee’s Chris Fritts hits a solo home run to left field. Holmes would strike out the next batter after he surrendered the home run, tying a season high with six strikeouts.

The Gamecocks extended the lead to five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Walker was hit by a pitch to open the frame. With one out and Walker on second base, Joey Pankake then knocked a RBI base hit up the middle scoring Walker. Dante Rosenberg also contributed with a RBI double as a ball hit into right field was lost in the sun by UT right fielder Steve Weaver scoring Pankake and giving the Gamecocks a 6-1 advantage.

The Gamecocks finished the day with six runs on six hits and no errors made in the field. Matthews and Rosenberg each had two hits apiece to lead the Gamecocks at the plate.

South Carolina returns to action on Tuesday night hosting The Citadel at Carolina Stadium. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

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