No. 2 Gamecocks pound Princeton, go for series sweep Sunday

Christian Walker went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI and the Gamecock offense belted out 12 hits as second ranked South Carolina defeated Princeton 6-1 on Saturday afternoon in non-conference baseball action at Carolina Stadium.

The Gamecocks are 12-1 on the year while Princeton drops to 2-4 for the season. The series finale is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Carolina Stadium.

South Carolina starter Matt Price improved to 2-0 on the year with the win. He allowed one run on four hits in six innings of work. He had six strikeouts and just one walk as well.

Sophomore right-hander Forrest Koumas came on in relief and picked up his third save of the year with 1.1 scoreless innings of work and just one hit allowed with one strikeout.

Princeton starting pitcher Mike Ford suffered the loss and is 0-2 for the season. He lasted five innings and allowed two runs on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

Carolina broke ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Evan Marzilli led off with a walk and with one out stole second base, his team-leading sixth stolen base of the season. With a 1-0 count, Walker drilled a RBI double into the gap in right-center scoring Marzilli.

The Tigers tied it at 1-1 in the top of the second inning. A one-out single by Steve Harrington followed by a double off the right field wall off the bat of Tyler Servais gave Princeton a pair of runners in scoring position. Nate Baird would drive Harrington in with a RBI ground out to Connor Bright at shortstop.

Carolina regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Walker opened the frame with a base hit up the middle and advanced to third base on LB Dantzler’s base hit into the gap in left-center. Then on Mike Ford’s first pitch to Adam Matthews, the Tigers’ catcher Sam Mulroy could not hold on to a low strike and Walker scampered home on the passed ball to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.

That advantage was extended to 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Walker again was in the mix with his third hit of the game, a two-out RBI base hit to center field that scored Dante Rosenberg. On the play Princeton center fielder John Mishu let the base hit get past him allowing Marzilli to score all the way from first base for an unearned run.

South Carolina added single runs in the seventh and eighth inning. Rosenberg had a two-out RBI base hit in the seventh inning to right field that scored pinch runner Joey Pankake giving the Gamecocks a 5-1 lead. A throwing error by Princeton shortstop Matt Bowman allowed Tanner English to score in the eighth inning to make it 6-1 in favor of the Gamecocks.

Along with Price and Koumas, the Gamecocks had another quality relief outing from left-hander Tyler Webb. The junior southpaw allowed just one hit in 1.2 innings and struck out two batters in a key relief role as he bridged the gap form Webb to Koumas in the late innings.

Dante Rosenberg and Erik Payne each were 2-for-3 at the plate. Payne made his second straight start at second base and tallied his first two-hit game of his career. Marzilli scored two runs and has now reached base in all 13 games this year. South Carolina has three straight games with double-digit hits and six in the last seven games.

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