March 3, 2004
Columbia, S.C. - Steve Pearce hit a three run first inning home run and Chad Blackwell choked off an eighth inning Furman rally Wednesday night as fifth ranked South Carolina downed the Paladins 7-4 for the 10th consecutive Gamecock win.
Jason Fletcher, 2-0, allowed two hits and no runs in the first four innings. He received credit for the win without working the required five innings because Coach Ray Tanner specified he would use at least three pitchers. Fletcher struck out three, walked none and left with a 5-0 lead.
Steven Tolleson and Bryan Triplett led off the Gamecock first inning with base hits and Pearce followed with his seventh home run in 10 games. The three run shot raised his runs batted in total to 22.
South Carolina added single runs in the second, third and fifth inning, the final tally unearned, before Furman rallied with four runs, three earned, in the top of the eighth inning to cut the Gamecock lead to 6-4.
South Carolina added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Furman starter Case Cassedy, 0-2, was charged with the loss as the Paladin record dropped to 2-7.
The first three of six South Carolina pitchers worked a two hit shutout through seven innings. Matthew Betswell singled to lead off the eighth, A. J. Davidiuk walked and pinch hitter Will Stembridge singled to load the bases. Andrew Greene reached on an error, scoring Betsill. Craig Caudill beat out a bunt, scoring Davidiuk.
Heath Rollins replaced Zac McCamie but he gave up a hit to Derek Norman, scoring Stembridge and Blackwell replaced Rollins with three runs in, the bases still loaded and no one out. Dominic Franchini hit into a double play with Greene scoring the fourth Furman run and Blackwell retired Sam McClain on a ground ball to end the threat.
Blackwell retired three consecutive Paladins in the ninth inning to earn his fourth save.
South Carolina finished with 13 hits, the ninth consecutive game in which the Gamecocks have had double digit hits.
Tolleson had two hits in two at bats before leaving in the fourth inning with a strained hamstring. The sophomore shortstop is day to day. Triplett, Pearce and Davy Gregg had two hits apiece for the Gamecocks. Both of the hits by Gregg were bunt singles. Landon Powell and Trey McDaniel had doubles.
The Pearce homer marked the 10th consecutive game in which South Carolina has hit at least one homer. The Gamecocks have 25 home runs.
South Carolina meets in-state rival Clemson this weekend, at 1:30 p.m., Saturday at Sarge Frye Field and at 2 p.m., Sunday at Clemson's Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
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