April 27, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Trailing by a pair of runs entering the bottom of the ninth inning, fifth ranked South Carolina stormed back as five consecutive hitters reached base with one out including a RBI single by Sean Sullivan with the bases loaded that scored Grayson Greiner with the tying run and saw TJ Costen scamper home on a fielding error by Alabama left fielder Hunter Gregory as the Gamecocks rallied for a 12-11 win on Friday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242 fans at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina is now 32-11 and 13-7 in league play with Alabama dropping to 17-27 and 6-14 in the conference. South Carolina has now won five consecutive series in a row in the SEC as well as 10 straight conference games. The series finale is set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. It can be heard live on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College with live video broadcast also available at GamecocksOnline.com.
With the Gamecocks behind 11-9 entering the bottom of the ninth, Christian Walker got the rally started with a double to the gap in left-center, his fourth time reaching base in the contest. He would score his fourth run of the game on Greiner's single to left-center that cut the deficit to a run. Costen kept the momentum going as he ripped a double down the left field line that put both runners in scoring position. Alabama elected to intentionally walk LB Dantzler to load the bases and set the stage for Sullivan. The Crimson Tide went to the pen for right-hander Jake Hubbard. On the first pitch he saw, Sullivan connected on Hubbard's pitch and flared a blooper into left-center that fell for a base hit. On the play, Alabama left fielder Hunter Gregory rushed his fielding attempt and could not come up with the baseball and Costen aggressively charged home with the winning run setting off a celebration on the field and in the stands.
Gamecock left-hander Nolan Belcher earned the win and is now 3-2 on the year. Alabama reliever Jon Keller suffered the loss and is now 1-4 for the season. He allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits in 1.2 innings with one walk and three strikeouts.
"Baseball is a great game and some days it just completely humbles you and will devastate you and other times you just keep playing and get 27 outs and good things can happen," said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. "We get one hit in game one and we win. (Adam) Matthews hit a ball the other way to lead off in the bottom of the eighth and very rarely does a ball go out that way unless there's a lot of wind. There wasn't any wind at the time but he crunched it pretty good and got it out of there and we win a game on one hit. We were staring a no hitter in the face and we end up winning the game, it's just crazy. (In game two), I thought we swung the bats pretty well early although we were behind. They had the four spot and just kept scoring every single one. I said some days you have to win 10-9 or 8-7, let's just keep battling, we haven't done that a whole lot and maybe today's the day. Play with some heightened awareness and let's just keep plugging. It worked out, didn't look like it was going to. We kept battling and good things happened for us."
Alabama broke ahead 4-0 in the first inning. With the bases loaded and one out Austen Smith singled to left field driving in two runners. Josh Rosecrans added a RBI double to right field and an RBI groundout by Brett Booth tacked gave the Crimson Tide a four-run cushion. The Gamecocks responded in the bottom of the first though as after a hit by pitch put Evan Marzilli on base, Christian Walker homered to left-center cutting Alabama's lead in half. The home run was Walker's eighth of the season.
Alabama increased their lead to 6-2 in the top of second. A leadoff single from James Tullidge followed by a double from Taylor Dugas put runners on second and third for Hunter Gregory who singled, bringing in both runners.
The Gamecocks responded again with two more runs the bottom half of the inning cutting Alabama's lead to 6-4. Adam Matthews launched a homer to left-center field, his second solo home run of the day in consecutive plate appearances, his first one coming in the eighth inning of game one, which was completed earlier in the day after being halted on Thursday night. Tanner English followed with his third triple of the season and scored on a sacrifice fly from Chase Vergason that was just shy of landing in the Carolina bullpen.
Two more hits for the Tide in the top of the third and a fielding error by Matthews added one more run for Alabama, increasing their lead to three runs.
After Walker drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the inning, Alabama would go to the bullpen for right-handed reliever Trey Pilkington who retired the next two Gamecocks. LB Dantzler doubled to right field and a fielding error by the Alabama right fielder Ben Moore allowed Walker to score cutting the Tide's lead to 7-5.
The Gamecocks would take the lead in the bottom of the fourth. English led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Vergason. Joey Pankake singled and put runners on the corners for Evan Marzilli, who drove in English with a sacrifice fly to left-center. Walker then reached base for the third time of the night after drawing a two-out walk and set the table for Grayson Greiner, who knocked a three-run homer out to left field giving the Gamecocks a 9-7 lead.
Smith drew a walk to lead of the fifth inning for Alabama and would eventually score cutting South Carolina's lead to 9-8. Rosecrans singled, the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch from Jordan Montgomery and an RBI groundout from Kenny Roberts drove in Smith. Alabama went ahead 10-9 in the sixth inning as Ben Moore came through with a two-out two-run single to give the Crimson Tide a one-run lead.
Evan Beal was able to work around a jam in the top of the seventh thanks to a great play by Matthews nabbing a runner at home plate and keeping Alabama's lead to just one run.
A leadoff walk to Rosecrans in the top of the ninth followed by a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single from Tullidge increased the Tide's lead to 11-9. Greiner picked off a runner attempting to steal second keeping the Gamecocks within two runs and ending the top of the ninth.
South Carolina won despite being out-hit 14-13 in the contest. Greiner was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBI. His four RBI ties a season-high. Walker was 2-for-3 with two RBI and four runs scored. English went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Dantzler was 2-for-4. Dugas and Tullidge each finished the evening with three hits apiece to lead Alabama at the plate. Hunter Gregory was 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Moore and Smith drove in two runs apiece as well.
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