May 21, 2005
Columbia, S.C. - After Kentucky and South Carolina swapped eighth inning grand slam home runs Saturday Steven Tolleson hit a one out walk off three run shot in the bottom of the ninth for a 12-9 win that clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament for the Gamecocks.
The eight team tournament begins Wednesday in Hoover, Ala. South Carolina improved its conference record to 15-14, 36-19 overall. The Gamecocks assured themselves of a berth in the tournament and should be the sixth seed. Carolina could tie Alabama for fifth place but would lose a tiebreaker for the fifth seed due to head-head record with the Crimson Tide. South Carolina took a 2-0 lead in the series before 4,781 fans at Sarge Frye Field as Kentucky dropped to 29-26 overall, 7-21 in the SEC.
South Carolina and Kentucky conclude the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The Gamecocks will honor their six senior players before Sunday's contest.
Sophomore left-hander Forrest Beverly, 1-0, pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for South Carolina to register his first collegiate win. He was 0-2 as a freshman in 2003 and sat out the 2004 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Brock Baber, 2-3, pitched two innings for Kentucky and was charged with the loss. He allowed seven earned runs on the final two Gamecock homers.
The score was tied at 5-5 in the top of the eighth inning when Kentucky loaded the bases without a hit against South Carolina relief pitcher Andy Lambert. Billy Grace was hit by a pitch and was sacrificed to second. John Shelby drew an intentional walk. J. P. Lowen struck out but Shaun Lehmann drew a walk, bringing Collin Cowgill with a .198 batting average to the plate with two outs. With the count no balls and two strikes Cowgill homered over the center field fence, his second of the season, to give Kentucky a 9-5 lead.
Michael Campbell walked to lead off the bottom of the eighth and Tolleson beat out a bunt single. With one out Chris Brown had an infield single to load the bases. Brendan Winn struck out but pinch hitter Neil Giesler hit a towering drive far over the right centerfield fence to tie the score. It was the first Gamecock pinch hit homer since March 12, 2003 when Jared Greenwood homered against Western Carolina. The Giesler homer was the fourth grand slam of the season by South Carolina.
After Beverly retired the Wildcats in the top of the ninth inning, allowing one infield hit, Ian Paxton singled to lead off the bottom of the inning. Davy Gregg bunted Paxton to second and Michael Campbell drew an intentional walk. Tolleson worked the count to three balls and one strike and then hit a high drive that was about 15 feet fair when it crossed the fence. It was Tolleson's sixth homer of the season.
Antone DeJesus led off the first inning with his third homer to give Kentucky the early lead but South Carolina countered with two runs in the bottom of the first on a walk, a double by Steve Pearce and singles by Chris Brown, Winn and Tommy King.
Hits by John Shelby and Cowgill, along with a stolen base and a hit batter, tired it at 2-2 in the second inning before a couple of fourth inning home runs gave South Carolina a 5-2 lead. Campbell hit a solo shot, his seventh, and after a Tolleson double Pearce hit his 17th. That was all the South Carolina scoring until the eighth inning grand slam.
A Lehmann double, walk, an RBI single by DeJesus and a sacrifice fly by J. B. Schmidt narrowed the South Carolina lead to 5-4 in the fifth inning. The Wildcats tied it in the seventh. Lehman walked, was bunted to second and scored on a South Carolina throwing error.
South Carolina collected 16 hits, four by Chris Brown, three each by Tolleson and Winn, and two by Pearce. Giesler had four runs batted in with his grand slam and Tolleson and Pearce drove in three runs apiece. Tolleson scored four runs, Campbell three and Pearce scored twice. Kentucky recorded nine hits, three by DeJesus and two each by Shelby and Cowgill, who also had five RBI. DeJesus drove in two.
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