COLUMBIA -- South Carolina left-hander Nolan Belcher celebrated Senior Day one day early.
The fifth-year senior handcuffed Georgia in USC's 7-2 win Friday at Carolina Stadium, one day before the team's nine seniors are to be honored in a pregame ceremony.
Belcher (7-5) allowed two runs on five hits and no walks while striking out eight in 71-3 innings on 100 pitches. He retired 16 consecutive hitters between the first and sixth innings.
The Augusta native, who missed the 2011 season due to elbow surgery, has compiled a 2.23 ERA in 93 innings this season as he worked his way into the role of team ace.
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"The story of the game, rightfully so, was Nolan Belcher. We coach for a lot of reasons, but one of the big reasons we coach is to be around kids like him," USC coach Chad Holbrook said. "I know what that kid has been through for five years here. It's really nice to see that all the hard work pay off."
The teams play the second game of the series at 1 p.m. Saturday, when Belcher and all of the other seniors will be recognized. Fellow senior left-handers Adam Westmoreland and Tyler Webb, who was making his 100th career appearance, two shy of the school record, combined to get the final five outs.
Sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner led the nine-hit attack with three hits -- a single, double and triple -- for the No. 15 Gamecocks (35-14, 14-10 SEC).
Greiner compared Belcher's efficiency and command to that of former ace Michael Roth.
"It's fun catching guys like that. He doesn't make me do much work back there. He's a soldier out there. I just love catching him," Greiner said.
The Bulldogs (18-29, 5-17) jumped on top when the game's first batter, Nelson Ward, pulled a home run around the right-field foul pole.
"In my younger days, I might have let that fluster me a little bit," Belcher said. "I was able to forget about it and just tried to stay focused and make quality pitches."