Columbia, S.C. -
On the strength of home runs by Ryan Mahoney, Steve Pearce, and Mark Stanley, and a solid outing by starting pitcher Aaron Rawl, the South Carolina baseball team advanced with a 12-4 victory over the Citadel on the first day of the Columbia, S.C., NCAA Baseball Regional at Sarge Frye Field on the University of South Carolina campus.
After the two teams traded runs in the first three and a half innings, the Gamecocks (46-15) took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth inning at 4-2, as Kevin Melillo led off the frame with a single and then came around to score on a two-run homer by designated hitter Ryan Mahoney off Bulldog (38-27) starter Ken Egleton (8-3). South Carolina added to its total bottom of the sixth and seventh, scoring four runs in each frame to make the score 12-2. After Brendan Winn and Melillo reached base on a walk and a single in the sixth, Steve Pearce homered to left center to make the score 7-2, before the Gamecocks added another run when Mark Stanley scored on an error. Melillo tied his career high with three hits in the contest, finishing 3-for-3 with four runs scored.
In the seventh inning, South Carolina scored it first run on an RBI single by Brendan Winn and added three more when Mark Stanley drove in Ryan Mahoney and Melillo with his first career home run to left center field off of Citadel reliever Griff Beckham.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the game during the top of the second inning, taking a 1-0 lead. Chip Cannon led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jon Aughey. Cannon them came around to score from third, when South Carolina second baseman Kevin Melillo overthrew Rawl (12-4), who was covering first on Andy Phillips' grounder.
The Gamecocks knotted things at 1-1 in the bottom of the frame, as Mellilo drew a one-out walk from Egleton (8-3) and moved to second on a groundout by Steve Pearce. Mellilo then scored on an RBI double by Michael Campbell. South Carolina upped its advantage to 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning, when Davy Gregg walked to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI double by Bryan Triplett.
The Citadel tied things up yet again at 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning, with Cannon again providing the spark. Cannon led off the inning with a double and then scored when Aughey followed with an RBI single. After Mark Egleton reached on a fielder's choice, back-to-back singles by Andy Phillips and Will Coker loaded the bases with one out, but Rawl was able to induce flyouts from Matt Matulia and Matt Covington to end the threat.
The Bulldogs closed out the scoring in the contest in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Chip Stackley and Mark Egleton each recorded solo home runs for the final 12-4 margin.
After giving up six hits in the first four innings, Rawl settled down in picking up the victory, allowing just two hits over the next three innings, finishing the game with eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings, while allowing just one earned run.
The Gamecocks will next face North Carolina at 3 p.m. in a winner's bracket game on Saturday, with the winner of that contest advancing to Sunday's championship game at 1:30 p.m.