South Carolina head baseball coach Ray Tanner and players discuss the Gamecocks' 6-1 victory over…
Gamecocks defeat PC 6-1
That start almost didn't happen.
The Gamecocks' junior left-hander was originally listed as the starter for Tuesday night's game in the release USC sent out Monday, but then was removed in favor of Patrick Sullivan just moments later before USC again decided on Tuesday to pitch him.
Neff felt stiffness in both shoulders on Monday after crashing into the wall going for a ball in Sunday's loss to Ole Miss. But felt fine after going through treatment Tuesday morning.
Tanner sent both Neff and Sullivan to the bullpen before the game but ultimately went with Neff when he felt fine about 30 minutes before the game.
br> Neff wasn't always perfect as he tossed several wild pitches but put Carolina in a position to win and improved his record to 3-1 on the season. He struck out five and walked just one in his five innings of work.
"I haven't started [as a pitcher] in a while," said Neff, whose last start on the mound came April 12 at The Citadel. "I haven't really pitched long innings in a while. So, I was just trying to go out there and keep throwing strikes."
Neff may have done enough to warrant getting another start on the weekend but the 82 pitches he threw against P.C. may override the positive performance when Tanner makes that decision. Saturday and Sunday starters Colby Holmes and Forrest Koumas have been good for USC this season but struggled against Ole Miss.
Tanner also mentioned that this weekend's opponent, Arkansas, has a predominantly right-handed line-up which would factor into the decision. Koumas could move up to Saturday with Sunday to be determined, according to Tanner.
It wasn't an offensive onslaught by any measure but the Carolina hitters gave Neff and the other pitchers enough cushion to work comfortably. The Gamecocks scored a solo run in the first, second, sixth and eighth innings while adding two in the fifth.
Peter Mooney and Christian Walker both led the way with two hits and two RBIs a piece. Mooney blasted his third home run of the season over the right field wall in the eighth inning.
Neff was relieved in the sixth by Jose Mata as he John Taylor and Tyler Webb combined to pitch four scoreless innings to finish the game. Taylor replaced Mata after 2.1 innings of work and Webb pitched a perfect ninth inning.
"It feels good," Walker said of the win. "Obviously it was a rough weekend. It's not what we wanted but at the same time you've got to flush it as soon as possible and move on. We've got six games here in a row at home, and hopefully we can get them all."
The Gamecocks host Charleston Southern Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Sullivan scheduled to get the start before hosting Arkansas over the weekend in the final SEC series of the year. Senior Day festivities are scheduled for Saturday at 4:10.
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