June 10, 2006
Athens, Ga. - South Carolina tied an NCAA Division I record for consecutive home runs with five in the second inning on its way to a 15-6 win over Georgia in the first of a three-game NCAA Super Regional at Foley Field. Andrew Crisp and Robbie Grinestaff each belted two homers and the team finished one short of a school record with eight in the game as Carolina moved one step closer to earning a spot in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Carolina is 41-23 while the loss drops Georgia to 45-21 on the year. The two teams meet in game two of the Super Regional at 4 pm ET with the game broadcast on ESPN and ESPNU.
"Getting out of the blocks today was really important for us," said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. "I think it gave our guys a chance to relax. We certainly didn't think the game would be over because we know how good Georgia is. Putting some runs on the board early was important. That being said, I thought the deciding points in the game were in the second and the third when Georgia had some run-scoring opportunities and Harris (Honeycutt) was able to wiggle out of them with only one run scoring. If they had been able to score runs then, there were a whole lot of innings left, and it could have been a whole different ballgame."
Carolina starting pitcher Harris Honeycutt worked a career-high 8.1 innings to pick up the win and improve his season record to 7-0. The sophomore right-hander allowed just six runs on 10 hits and struck out five batters to earn the victory. USC reliever Chase Tucker finished the game recording the final two outs. Georgia starting pitcher Mickey Westphal lasted only 1.2 innings and allowed seven runs on seven hits to suffer the loss and is 7-2 this year.
The Carolina offense quickly gave Honeycutt a 3-0 lead in the first inning with three two-out hits against Westphal including the first homer of the game. Consecutive singles by Justin Smoak and Phil Disher set the stage for Andrew Crisp, who crushed a three-run homer to deep left center. The homer was Crisp's sixth of the year and his second in NCAA postseason action.
The three run-lead would be extended to 9-0 as Carolina blasted five straight homers off Westphal and Georgia reliever Stephen Dodson. With two outs and a runner on first base, Neil Giesler began the barrage with a two-run homer to right field. Following Giesler was Justin Smoak, who knocked a solo homer to left field to increase the USC lead to six runs. Cleanup hitter Phil Disher was next and he drove his fourth postseason homer to deep left center that gave USC a seven-run cushion and knocked out Westphal. Disher has hit home runs in four consecutive games for the Gamecocks dating back to the Saturday win over Virginia at the NCAA Regional. Dodson came in for the Bulldogs and was greeted by Crisp, who hit a 1-1 pitch to left field for his second homer of the game and the fourth consecutive of the inning. The last homer would come off the bat of Robbie Grinestaff, who launched a deep shot to right field. The five consecutive homers tied the NCAA record set on April 10, 1998 by Eastern Illinois vs. Morehead State.
"I don't think I have ever seen anything like that," said Tanner. "I didn't even know we had hit five in a row until after the game. I knew we had hit a few homers but I guess you get lost in the game a little bit."
Honeycutt would allow a run in the fourth inning but kept the Georgia bats silent for the first half of the game and worked with a lead that continued to rise in the fifth inning as James Darnell got in the home run mix with a three-run homer off Dodson that pushed the lead up to 12-1. Georgia would score three times in the seventh inning but Carolina would get those runs back in the eighth inning as Grinestaff hit his second homer of the game, a three-run shot, to give Carolina 15 runs on the day. The Bulldogs scored their final run in the ninth inning.
All nine starters in the USC lineup had at least one hit with seven of the nine starters tallying at least two as USC finished with 19 on the afternoon including the eight home run total, the largest of the season for USC and one short of the school record (9) set back on March, 21, 1985 vs. Cincinnati. Grinestaff drove in four runs and tied a season-high with four hits. Crisp was 2-for-4 with three runs and four RBI with Disher also hitting 3-for-5 with three runs and Smoak 2-for-6 with two runs scored as well. Paxton, Brown and Giesler all had two hits as well. Georgia finished with 11 hits including a 3-for-4 performance by Joey Side and two hits apiece for Jonathan Wyatt, Josh Morris and Kyle Keen.
Live audio broadcast for Sunday's game is available on the Gamecock Radio Network and on the uscsports.com including the flagship stations 103.1 FM (WOMG) and 1320 AM (WISW) in Columbia.
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