Gamecocks Edge Tar Heels 4-3 to Claim Tournament Title
March 4, 2006
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Darcy Norem scored on a passed ball in the sixth inning with two outs to give South Carolina (16-5) the 4-3 lead over the North Carolina Tar Heels (12-4) in day two of the Tar Heel Invitational. The run would serve as the winning run and USC improved to 4-0 in the tournament and clinched its first tournament title of the season.
Christie Hamilton (9-3) pitched five innings to grab the win and Jessica Barnes (1) pitched two innings to record her first career save. McKenna Hughes went 3-for-4 with one run and an RBI while Wetherbee went 2-for-3 with one run and an RBI. Lisa Norris took the loss for UNC and fell to 5-1.
In the sixth, Wetherbee led off with a single and Norem entered the game as the pinch runner for Wetherbee. Norem advanced to second on an error by UNC and on the sac bunt, proceeded to third. On a 1-1 count to Margaret Person, Norem scored on a passed ball to give the Gamecocks the lead.
Hughes doubled to centerfield with one out and eventually scored on an RBI single by Hamilton to give USC the 1-0 lead. In the second inning, Hughes continued to help the Gamecocks score as she hit an RBI single to drive home Ashton Payne, who reached on a one-out single to left field.
Up 2-0 in the fourth, Wetherbee rocketed a home run to left field, her third of the tournament, and extended USC's lead to 3-0.
The Tar Heels began to chip away at the South Carolina lead as they led off the fourth with a single by Jennifer Jacobs. Anna Evans provided the Tar Heels another base runner after drawing a walk. Alyssa Francona drove in Jacobs with a one out RBI single to cut the score to 3-1. UNC continued to threaten and advanced Evans and Francona to third and second with no outs. USC tightened up its defense and got the next three outs on groundouts to get out of the inning.
UNC took advantage of Gamecock errors in the fifth and was able to score two runs in the inning. Hamilton threw four straight balls to Evans to load the bases before Francona hit a dribbler to third but a bobble by Becky Martinez allowed Cassie Palmer to score and cut the lead to one. With the bases still loaded and two outs, Breanna Brown hit a line drive back to the pitcher but Hamilton mishandled the ball and couldn't make the out at first, and UNC tied the game 3-3 when Jacobs scored.
After the Gamecocks took the lead in the sixth, Jessica Barnes entered the game and retired the batters in order. In the seventh, USC gave up a one-out single but UNC's Evans grounded into a double play to end the inning and extend the Gamecock's win streak to eight, its longest since 2004.