Deep breaths helped Caleb Daniels through his first collegiate start.
The USC Beaufort right-hander learned Saturday morning he would open the Sand Sharks' bid to sweep their four-game series with Mid-Continent (Ky.). With some calculated breathing and teammates' jokes to lighten the mood, Daniels managed two scoreless innings before stepping aside for a parade of Sand Sharks pitchers.
This was the objective Saturday for head coach Bryan Lewallyn, to force game experience on his Sand Sharks squad while it beat up a non-conference opponent.
USCB completed the sweep of the Cougars with an 11-6 victory at Richard Gray Baseball Complex in Hardeeville. Eight Sand Sharks pitchers threw and 16 players received an at-bat.
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"There's no substitute for game work," Lewallyn said. "You can throw in the bullpen all you want, but you need that actual work in the game."
R.J. Neal went 3 for 5 and drove in three runs to help lead USCB (5-1). Shortstop Weldon Smith -- a former Battery Creek standout -- and left fielder Ty Main hit back-to-back home runs during the third inning.
Former Beaufort High School pitcher Junior Delatorre took advantage of the work day, pitching a scoreless sixth inning with a strikeout in his USCB debut. Delatorre said he saw his name on the list in the dugout and felt some nerves during the inning before he took the mound.
"I was just trying to let it loose," he said. "Thankfully it went where I wanted it to go."
Closer Colton Rudd came on during the seventh inning to try to finish off a run rule-shortened victory, with the Sand Sharks up 11-1. But the Cougars (0-8) pushed across three runs to extend the game.
Lewallyn said he wasn't concerned with Rudd's outing, that the point was only to get him his first work of the season. It also allowed Lewallyn to see two more pitchers.
Similar work is on the way for the group before it starts Sun Conference play, Lewallyn said. The Sand Sharks say there will be no issue with egos as they continue to share time moving forward.
"I honestly think no one's a 'me-me' guy," said sophomore Alex Graham, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning. "I'll root for any one of these guys, if I don't get to throw for two months, I'll be right behind them the whole game."
The Sand Sharks torched Cougars pitchers yet again, chasing starter Kyle Bugg with two outs in the first inning. Catcher Dylan Nasiatka extended his hit streak to six at-bats with an RBI double in the first and later and drew a walk. Erik Armstrong hit another double to extend his Sun Conference-leading total to six.
USC Beaufort 11, Mid-Continent 6
Mid-Continent 000 100 320 -- 6 12 2
USCB 423 101 00x -- 11 15 2
WP: Caleb Daniels (1-0) 2 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 K.
LP: Kyle Bugg (0-1) 2/3 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 K.
Top hitters: Mid-Continent-- Jordan Manney 2 for 3, 2 RBIs, HR; Richard Arias 3 for 5, RBI. USCB -- R.J. Neal 3 for 5, 3 RBIs; Ty Main 2 for 3, RBI, HR; Weldon Smith 1 for 2, 2 RBIs, HR; Brandon Collins 2 for 3, 2B.