May 26, 2004
Hoover, Ala. - Steven Tolleson's three-run home run in the ninth inning capped off a four-run rally for South Carolina and Steve Pearce hit a RBI double in the 10th inning as seventh ranked South Carolina upended 12th ranked Ole Miss 7-6 in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
South Carolina is now 42-15 and advances to the next round to face the winner of the Tennessee-Arkansas game on Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. Ole Miss is now 39-18 on the year.
Trailing 6-2 in the ninth inning, the Gamecocks scored four runs off Ole Miss relief pitcher Stephen Head, SEC Co-Player of the Year, to extend the game to extra innings. Kevin Melillo opened up the ninth inning with a single and advanced to second base on a one-out walk to Michael Campbell. With two outs, pinch hitter Hank Parks knocked a 2-2 pitch from Head for a RBI single to center field scoring Melillo to cut the deficit to three runs and keep the Gamecock rally alive. With a 0-1 count, Tolleson drove the pitch from Head down the left field line hitting the foul pole for a game-tying homer, his third of the season.
Carolina gained the lead in the 10th inning with a RBI double from Steve Pearce. One-out singles from Brendan Winn and Melillo set the stage for Pearce, who drilled a double to left field to score Winn and give the Gamecocks a one-run cushion. Gamecock reliever Chad Blackwell retired the Rebels in order in bottom half of the 10th to seal the come-from-behind win. Blackwell worked two scoreless innings allowing just one hit and striking out three batters to earn the win. Blackwell is now 4-3 on the year. Head took the loss after two innings of relief and is now 6-2 on the year. He allowed five runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
The game was a pitcher's duel early as South Carolina starting pitcher Matt Campbell and Ole Miss starter Mark Holliman went into the fifth inning without allowing a hit. Campbell retired 14 batters in a row before a two-out single by Babineaux in the bottom of the fifth. South Carolina went ahead early on Ole Miss 1-0 with a run in the fourth inning without a base hit off Holliman. Bryan Triplett walked, stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch from Holliman. Triplett would score on a one-out sacrifice fly RBI to left from Kevin Melillo.
The game remained 1-0 until the seventh inning when Steve Pearce drilled the first pitch from Holliman over the left field wall for his 16th HR of the year and a two-run Gamecock lead. South Carolina now owns 95 home runs as a team on the year. Ole Miss starting pitcher Mark Holliman worked seven 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts and five walks allowed.
With the Gamecocks up two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Ole Miss struck back with six runs, five unearned to take a four-run lead. Chris Coghlan tripled to lead of the inning and scored on a fielding error by Triplett at third base that put Charlie Babineaux on first base. A bunt by Matt Tolbert was misplayed by Campbell in the grass for an error and gave the Rebels runners on first and second with no outs. Arik Hempy relieved Campbell, who went seven innings allowing three runs, one earned on three hits with nine strikeouts and no walks allowed. With two outs and Tolbert and pinch runner Miles Franklin on second and third respectively, Ole Miss leadoff hitter Cooper Osteen hit a RBI single to left scoring Franklin and giving the Rebels a one run lead. After Seth Smith was hit by a pitch, the lead extended to four runs as Head's three-run HR off Hempy gave the Rebels a four-run cushion.
South Carolina outhit the Rebels 10-6 with Tolleson, Powell, Melillo and Pearce collecting two apiece to lead the Gamecock attack.
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SOUTH CAROLINA NOTEBOOK
- Landon Powell set a school record for games played in a career in Wednesday's game with Ole Miss at the SEC Tournament. The game was his 237th game that the senior catcher has appeared in as a Gamecock. That passes the mark set, 1991-94, by USC Hall of Fame outfielder Mac White.
- The home run by Steven Tolleson was his third of the season and his first since his game-winning homer against Clemson on March 7th.
- Chad Blackwell picked up his fourth win on the season with his last coming against The Citadel in Charleston on May 12th.
- South Carolina is now 6-1 this season in extra inning games played. All six wins for South Carolina have ended in the 10th inning.
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