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May 11, 2013COLUMBIA, S.C. - Senior Nolan Belcher pitched 7.1 innings Friday to lead 15th-ranked South Carolina to a 7-2 victory over Georgia at Carolina Stadium.
Georgia (18-29, 5-17 SEC) went on top 1-0 when sophomore second baseman Nelson Ward smashed a 2-2 pitch over the fence in right field for a leadoff home run. It was the first of his career and first by a Bulldog to lead off a game since Curt Powell against LSU in Baton Rouge last year.
But South Carolina bounced right back.
The Gamecocks (35-14, 14-10 SEC) responded with a two-out rally in their half of the first off freshman Sean McLaughlin to take a 2-1 lead. Designated hitter LB Dantzler tied the game with a run-scoring double and catcher Grayson Greiner followed with an RBI-triple.
"We got the leadoff home run but that was it until the eighth, and you have to give some credit to (Nolan) Belcher, he's a fifth-year senior and he settled in," said Georgia coach David Perno. "Sean got two quick outs but then gave up a couple and then two more in the third, and his pitch count was in the 80s by the fourth and with a short week coming up, I decided to go to the bullpen. I thought Mike Mancuso and Dylan Cole did really well and Luke (Crumley) was rusty and they got to him. I saw some good things from the guys off the bench in D.J. Smith, Heath Holder and Daniel Nichols. We'll get some of those guys in there Saturday."
In the third, South Carolina extended its lead to 4-1. Dantzler led off with a walk and went to third on a double by Greiner. A sacrifice fly by Graham Saiko and an RBI-single by Kyle Martin capped the scoring. Georgia turned to sophomore Luke Crumley to start the fifth and the Gamecocks pushed their lead to 7-1, scoring three runs on three hits. Redshirt freshman Mike Mancuso got the final out of the frame.
Meanwhile, Belcher cruised for much of the night, retiring 16 straight at one point. The string was snapped with one out in the sixth when senior Curt Powell smacked a single to right field. It extended his hitting streak to eight games and gave him 75 hits on the year which ranks second in the SEC. In the eighth, sophomore pinch-hitter Heath Holder led off with a base hit. Belcher struck out Bowers for the first out and then D.J. Smith lined a single to advance Holder to third. It was his 100th pitch of the night and at that point, the Gamecocks brought in left-hander Adam Westmoreland. Ward greeted him with a successful bunt single to score Holder for his second RBI of the night. He came back to strike out Powell before Hunter Cole drew a walk to load the bases for senior Kyle Farmer. He swung at the first pitch and tapped one to Westmoreland who tossed to first to end the rally.
Mancuso provided 2.1 scoreless innings for the Bulldogs, retiring all seven batters he faced, and junior Dylan Cole took care of the Gamecocks in the eighth. McLaughlin allowed four runs on six hits in four innings to fall to 4-6. Belcher improved to 7-5, going 7.1 innings and surrendering two runs on five hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. In the ninth, freshman Daniel Nichols led off with a pinch-hit double and the Gamecocks brought in closer Tyler Webb who finished the frame.
The series continues Saturday at 1:05 p.m. and be televised by CSS.