April 17, 2004
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Dominique Accetturo hit a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the 13th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide over the 24th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks 6-5. The win split the Saturday doubleheader as USC fell to 22-17, 11-15 in SEC play. Ashley Smith drove in four of USC's five runs and went 3-for-3 at the plate with three doubles. Designated player/pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle went 3-for-4 with a run and four RBI's as well.
Nancy Crane scored three times for the Gamecocks in game two, four for the entire day. For the Saturday doubleheader, the centerfielder scored four of USC's eight runs.
For the second game in a row, Crane scored in the first inning for the Gamecocks as she led off the inning with a triple, the first of her career and the first for USC this season. Crane was able to come home on a two-out RBI double by Smith and put USC up 1-0.
The Gamecocks scored again in the third inning on another RBI double by Smith and again, Crane was the runner. The centerfielder led off with a single and stole second on a strikeout by McKenna Hughes. Smith then followed with her second double of the game to drive in Crane and give the Garnet and Black a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the third, Alabama had runners at first and third when the Tide executed a double steal between Jackie McClain and Ashley Courtney during VanBrakle's at-bat. Courtney came home from third on the steal and cut the score to 2-1. Then on a full count, VanBrakle singled up the middle and McClain ran home from second and scored in a controversial play at the plate. The run tied the game 2-2 and the Gamecocks then brought in Aleca Johnson to pitch. Johnson struck out Capper Reed to get USC out of the inning safely.
USC extended its lead in the fifth as they recorded three runs on three hits. Crane doubled for her second extra-base hit of the game and put USC in the lead 3-2 on an RBI single by Meghan Cornett. Hughes then followed with a walk and with one out, Smith doubled for the third time during the game and drove in Cornett and Hughes for two more runs and put the Gamecocks ahead 5-2.
The three-run lead by the Gamecocks was not enough as the Tide's VanBrakle struck with her second home run of the day. This time, Alabama had two runners on and one out before the designated player blasted her eighth long ball of the season to tie the game 5-5.
Stacey Johnson entered the game for USC in the bottom of the sixth and became the pitcher of record. Despite loading the bases, Johnson held Alabama to just one hit and two walks. After Johnson gave up her second straight walk, the Newtown, Pa. native struck out Leah White and McClain grounded out to end the inning and stranded the Tide's runners.
USC attempted to grab a lead in the top of the seventh as Cornett led off with a single to the right side. After Hughes grounded out and Cornett advanced to second, Smith was intentionally walked and Alabama brought in Van Brakle to pitch. Amber Curtis was the first batter VanBrakle faced and she grounded out into a double play to strand USC's runners.
In the Alabama half of the inning, VanBrakle led off with a single to second base and her pinch runner Deasy Phillips advanced on a sacrifice. With two outs, Accetturo, who went 3-for-4 on the day, singled to left centerfield to score Phillips for the winning run.
VanBrakle pitched two-thirds of an inning and improved to 12-8 as she earned the win for the Crimson Tide. Johnson took the loss for Carolina as she threw 1.2 innings and gave up one run on three hits. Johnson fell to 14-7 for the year.
The deciding game of the series will be Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised live on Fox Sports South Net. The game can also be followed live via Internet broadcast at www.uscsports.com.
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