March 25, 2007
Starkville, Miss. - Justin Smoak went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBI and Phil Disher added his second homer of the weekend series as South Carolina defeated Mississippi State 8-3 in Sunday afternoon's rubber game at Dudy Noble Field. The Gamecocks win the series two games to one and are now 21-4 and 4-2 in the SEC while the loss drops Mississippi State to 14-6 and 3-3 in conference play. Carolina returns to action on Tuesday night with a road game at Elon scheduled for 7 pm ET, live audio broadcast available at uscsports.com.
Three Gamecock pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts in the game with Jeff Jeffords picking up his second win of the season. Jeffords worked a season-high 3.2 innings and allowed just one run on two hits while tying a career-high with six strikeouts to earn the victory. Carolina reliever Wynn Pelzer pitched 2.1 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits and struck out four batters to close the game out.
South Carolina out-hit Mississippi State 12-8 including Smoak's team-leading four hits with Trent Kline, Robbie Grinestaff and Reese Havens adding a pair of hits as well. Kline, Smoak and Havens all scored two runs on the afternoon. Mississippi State's leading hitters were Jeffrey Rea and Brian LaNinfa with two apiece.
The Bulldogs got out of the gates early and took a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the third inning against Gamecock starter Blake Cooper. LaNinfa tallied a two-out RBI single to left field that was followed up by another RBI single courtesy of Connor Powers. Cooper was able to get out of a bases loaded jam though and he recorded a third out against Joseph McCaskill to limit the damage.
South Carolina used the long ball to get back in the game in the fourth inning and take a 3-2 lead. After Kline's leadoff single, Smoak launched his team-leading eight home run of the year over the right field wall to tie the game. The Gamecocks would then go ahead by a run on Disher's solo shot to left center off MSU starter Josh Johnson, his sixth round-tripper of the year.
Carolina chased Johnson in the sixth inning with a pair of runs to increase the cushion to a 5-2 advantage. South Carolina opened the frame with three consecutive base hits from Kline, Smoak and Robbie Grinestaff. Grinestaff's single scored Kline. Smoak would then score on a double play that got both pinch runner Cheyne Hurst and Disher. Johnson would take the loss after working into the sixth, allowing five runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk. He is 2-1 on the year.
The Gamecocks would go ahead 7-2 in the seventh inning with a pair of runs on MSU reliever John Lalor, brother of Carolina pitcher Conor Lalor. Smoak and James Darnell each delivered with two-out RBI singles to score Reese Havens and Trent Kline.
Ed Easley brought the Bulldogs to within four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-out solo homer to center field. It was the only run that Jeffords allowed in the game and just the second hit in 3.2 innings of work.
Carolina finished the series hitting .388 (52-for-134) in the three-game set with five home runs including a pair from Disher. Carolina outscored the Bulldogs 33-12 with Reese Havens leading the way at the plate 8-for-15 (.533) with five runs scored.
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