Columbia, S.C. -
The South Carolina baseball team gave starting pitcher Matt Campbell all the runs he would need in the first inning, including a three-run home run by Steve Pearce, as it downed North Carolina by a 5-2 score in a winner's bracket game at the Columbia, S.C., NCAA Regional at Sarge Frye Field.
After giving up the Tar Heels' (42-20) only two runs of the contest in the first inning, Campbell (9-4) was masterful for the Gamecocks (47-15) in seven-and-two-third innings of work, as he struck out a season-high tying 11 and walking just one, while scattering six hits. The junior recorded five-straight strikeouts at one point during the sixth and seventh innings. Chad Blackwell came on with two outs in the eighth inning and recorded his 16th save of the season for South Carolina.
North Carolina took the early lead in the contest with its only two runs of the game, claiming a quick 2-0 advantage. After the Tar Heels' Chris Iannetta recorded a two-out single, Marshall Hubbard drove a Campbell offering over the left-centerfield fence for his 17th home run of the season and his 81st and school-record 82nd RBI of the year.
The Gamecocks immediately answered in the bottom of the frame with four runs of their own. Steven Tolleson and Bryan Triplett led off the inning with back-to-back singles, before North Carolina starter Daniel Bard (8-4) struck out the next two Gamecock hitters. Kevin Melillo then recorded a two-out RBI single that scored Tolleson, before Pearce followed Melillo with his first homer of the game, a three-run shot that cleared the left-centerfield fence, making the score 4-2.
Pearce went deep again in the bottom of the eighth inning for his 19th homer of the season, ensuring the final margin. For the game, Pearce was 2-for-2 with four RBI and two runs scored, while Melillo was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Bard took the loss for the Heels, as he worked five-and-two-third innings, striking out four and walking four others. The rookie allowed just one hit after giving up four in the first inning.
South Carolina moves on and will await the winner of Saturday night's elimination game between North Carolina and The Citadel in Sunday's first Regional Championship game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.