June 5, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A five-run rally in the eighth inning, propelled by a pair of home runs from Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Adrian Morales, helped South Carolina overcome a four-run deficit and defeat Bucknell 9-5 in Friday's second game of the NCAA Columbia Regional. The Gamecocks scored eight runs in their final three at-bats to secure their 12th-consecutive home postseason victory before 6,712 fans at Carolina Stadium.
Approximately 2,000 tickets (500 bleacher, 1,500 standing room only) are available for Saturday's winner's bracket game between South Carolina and The Citadel, which begins at 7 p.m. The Carolina Stadium ticket office opens at 12:30 p.m. Saturday with an elimination game between Bucknell and Virginia Tech slated for a 2 p.m. first pitch.
Bucknell (25-34) led 5-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth, and the Gamecocks appeared to be reeling. But slowly, South Carolina (44-15) chipped away at the Bison lead with two runs in the sixth, another in the seventh, and a five-run explosion in the eighth to secure the victory.
Sophomore Michael Roth (1-1) earned his first win of the season, shutting down Bucknell over the final 3.1 innings, allowing just one runner to reach base (who was thrown out advancing to second on an error) and striking out five of the 10 batters he faced. Sam Dyson got the start for South Carolina, going five-plus innings while allowing four runs - three earned - on four hits while walking two and posting seven strikeouts. For Bucknell, Steve Carlin (3-6) was charged with the loss after giving up five earned runs in one inning of relief. Bison starter Dylan Seeley went 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits while striking out and walking two apiece.
Offensively, it took the Gamecocks a while to get going, but they got big hits from multiple sources. Morales led the way with a 3-for-5 night, including his three-run homer in the eighth to put the game away. His three RBI tied a season- and career-high for the junior. Evan Marzilli, Whit Merrifield and Adam Matthews had two hits apiece, with Marzilli and Bradley each driving in two runs. Bucknell was led by Andrew Brouse with a 2-for-3 effort while scoring a pair of runs, and four other Bison had one hit apiece.
The game was delayed for just more than an hour in the fourth inning by rain and lightning in the area. Play was halted at 7:57 p.m. and resumed shortly after 9 p.m.
South Carolina left 13 runners on base in the game, including six in the first three innings. And the first batter of the Bucknell fourth made South Carolina pay for its missed opportunities. Second baseman Ben Yoder led off the inning with a home run - his 11th of the year - that just cleared the left-field wall to give the BIson a 1-0 lead. The next hitter, Andrew Brouse, was hit by a pitch. Shortly thereafter, the game was halted due to weather, but Dyson returned to the hill when play continued more than an hour later. Brouse stole second on the first pitch once play resumed then moved to third on a wild pitch with two out. On a 2-1 pitch, the ball got by the Carolina catcher, but Brouse held between third and home. However, Thomas' throw back to home plate got past the covering Dyson, allowing Brouse to score on the error to put Bucknell ahead 2-0. Dyson, however, would respond by striking out Drew Constable to end the inning.
South Carolina was finally able to string together some hits with two out in the fourth. No. 9-hitter Bobby Haney started things with a single to left, and Marzilli followed with nearly a carbon-copy hit to put runners at first and second. Merrifield then came through with a double down the left-field line to plate Haney and cut the deficit in half. With two runners in scoring position, Bradley popped up to end the inning.
Bucknell extended its lead in the sixth by methodically moving runners and taking advantage of a South Carolina miscue. A leadoff walk by Yoder and a base hit from Brouse chased Dyson from the game and brought on Jose Mata. With two strikes on the Bison's leading hitter, Doug Shribman laced a double off the left-field wall to bring in Yoder and make it 3-1. After a groundout, a seeing-eye single through a drawn-in Carolina infield from Constable made it 4-1, and an error in the infield that should have ended the inning two batters later allowed Shribman to score, making it 5-1.
Once again, the Gamecocks would cut the Bison lead in half with another two-out rally in the sixth. A one-out double from Morales set the table, and he stole third as Haney struck out for the second out. After watching the first five pitches of the at-bat to work the count full, Marzilli lined Seeley's 95th pitch over the right-field wall to bring in two runs and reduce the deficit to 5-3. It would be the penultimate pitch for Seeley as Merrifield laid down a perfect bunt to reach first on an infield single to chase the Bucknell righthander from the game. The new pitcher, Ryan Ebner, walked Bradley to put a pair of runners on with two out, but Christian Walker flew out to the warning track in right to end the frame.
After a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, the Gamecocks kept the momentum going as a pair of infield bunt singles from Matthews and pinch-hitter Scott Wingo sandwiched around a walk to new catcher Kyle Enders loaded the bases with no outs. After Morales struck out, pinch-hitter Robert Beary lifted a deep fly ball to center field, scoring Matthews on the sacrifice fly. But one run would be all South Carolina could manage as another pinch-hitter, Parker Bangs, struck out to end the inning with Bucknell still leading 5-4.
The Carolina offense finally exploded in the eighth inning. Bradley put South Carolina on top for the first time all night with one swing of the bat, launching a home run just over the left-field wall to score Merrifield in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Gamecocks a 6-5 lead. A walk to Matthews and a hit batter for Wingo put runners at first and third with two out. Morales - who made up for the third Gamecock error of the game with a sliding grab and throw to second in the top of the inning - blasted a three-run homer to left to give the Gamecocks a 9-5 lead they would not relinquish as Roth would retire the side in order in the ninth.
South Carolina joined the rest of its in-state brethren and also its fellow conference schools in winning its opening game of the NCAA Tournament; all five teams from the state (The Citadel, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston and South Carolina) and the other seven SEC teams (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Mississippi, Vanderbilt) each won their games on Friday.
Complete coverage of the entire NCAA Columbia Regional is available through NCAA.com and GamecocksOnline.com.
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