May 29, 2009
GREENVILLE, N.C. - After trailing early in the opening game of the 2009 NCAA Greenville Regional, South Carolina responded with 11 runs as part of a 17-hit effort to top George Mason, 11-3, Friday afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Three Gamecock batters recorded at least three hits in the contest while every South Carolina starter notched at least one hit. Gamecock centerfielder Whit Merrifield also produced a team-high three RBI. Gamecock starting pitcher Sam Dyson improved to 9-4 on the season, striking out five Patriot batters in seven innings of work.
Third baseman Mark Hill led the offense for George Mason, going 2-for-4 while All-America catcher Chris Henderson paced the Patriots with two RBI. Additionally, GMU starting pitcher Mike Modica suffered just his second loss of the season, falling to 11-2.
The Patriots (42-13) opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. With one out, Henderson drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch before Scott Krieger laced a single up the middle. The next batter, Justin Bour, doubled down the left field line, scoring Henderson and making the score 1-0. After hitting Ryan Soares in the next at bat, Dyson would get out of the inning, inducing a ground ball double play off of the bat of Ryan Davis.
South Carolina (39-21) put up its first base hit in the bottom of the third when Scott Wingo placed a bunt down the first base line that resulted in an infield single. He then advanced to second on a balk but was stranded as Modica recorded a pair of one-out strikeouts.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Gamecocks plated four runs on five hits and took advantage of two Patriot errors to take a 4-1 advantage. The scoring outburst was highlighted by Parker Bangs' fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot that also served as South Carolina's 100th of the campaign. The Gamecocks added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth, using a two-out, bases-loaded single that plated Bangs and Justin Dalles, who had both singled earlier in the inning.
George Mason responded in its half of the seventh, using a one-out double from Henderson that plated Ryan Uphouse and Spencer Wiggins, who reached base via a single and a walk, respectively. Soares then stepped into the box with two away and runners on first and second, but struck out looking after a 13-pitch at bat. South Carolina pulled one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning, when Ebert hit a solo home run to left field for his team-high 23rd of the year. With two outs and the Gamecocks still batting, officials halted play when lightning they detected lightning in the area.
After a 78-minute delay, South Carolina tacked on two more runs on a double to left center by Andrew Crisp to provide the final 11-3 margin.
The Gamecocks advance to the winner's bracket and will take on either top-seeded East Carolina or No. 4 seed Binghamton tomorrow at 6 p.m. while the Patriots will return to the field at 2 p.m. in an elimination game.