June 1, 2003
ATLANTA - Right fielder Steven Tolleson homered and went 3-for-5, and eight different batters drove in runs to lead No. 2 seed South Carolina (42-20) to a 9-3 victory over fourth-seeded Stetson (41-24) Sunday in the title game of the NCAA Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium.
With the victory, the Gamecocks advance to next weekend's Super Regional against the winner of the Starkville Regional, either North Carolina or Mississippi State.
South Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the top of the second. With two outs, left fielder Michael Campbell reached on a throwing error by Stetson pitcher John DeStefano and later scored when center fielder Jon Coutlangus tripled down the right field line.
After Stetson tied the game at one on a solo home run by right fielder Pete Rasmusen in the second, the Gamecocks pulled ahead 3-1 in the third on sacrifice flies from first baseman Bryan Triplett and second baseman Kevin Melillo.
The Gamecock lead ballooned to 5-1 in the fifth, as designated hitter Nick Gardiner drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center, and Campbell singled to center field to plate first baseman Bryan Triplett, who doubled. Both runs were unearned, as a pair of Hatter errors contributed to the scoring.
However, Stetson rebounded in its half of the fifth to trim the margin to 5-3. Designated hitter Brian Snyder roped a two-out, bases loaded single to center field to score both Rasmusen, who walked to lead off the inning, and center fielder Ian Church, who singled up the middle.
But South Carolina put the game away with four runs over the sixth and seventh innings. Tolleson homered to left on the first pitch of the sixth, while catcher Landon Powell, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, drove in a run with a single to center and Triplett plated a runner on a fielder's choice. Shortstop Justin Harris closed out the scoring with a RBI single to right in the seventh.
Gamecock starter Steven Bondurant (6-3) scattered eight hits over seven innings to earn the win. He allowed three earned runs, while walking one and striking out seven. Aaron Rawl worked perfect eighth and ninth innings to close out the game.
In addition to Tolleson's 3-for-5 effort, Harris went 3-for-5, while third baseman Brian Buscher and Powell each added two hits.
Stetson's DeStefano (5-3) took the loss after allowing seven runs (four earned) and 10 hits over five innings. The Hatters used a total of four pitchers in the game. Second baseman Ben Hall paced the offense with two hits.
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