April 12, 2002
NASHVILLE, TENN. – Behind 16 hits and Garris Gonce’s 10th home run of the season, the seventh ranked South Carolina baseball team defeated Vanderbilt 7-5 on Friday evening. Gonce finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI and third baseman Brian Buscher batted 3-for-5 to lead the Gamecock hitting attack. Carolina improves its overall record to 26-8 on the year and 7-5 in the SEC. The loss drops Vanderbilt to 15-13 and 3-8 in conference play.
South Carolina starting pitcher Gary Bell went five and two third innings allowing three runs on five hits and earned the win to improve his record to 6-2 on the season. Bell retired 13 consecutive batters between the first and fifth innings before allowing a two-out single. South Carolina senior Blake Taylor went three and one third innings of relief and freshman Aaron Rawl pitched the ninth inning to earn his first career save. Vanderbilt pitcher Jeremy Sowers took the loss for the Commodores moving his record to 3-4 on the year. Vanderbilt first baseman Sean Luellwitz was 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI to lead the Commodores.
South Carolina opened up the scoring in the top of the first inning. Carolina hit Sowers for four singles in the first inning including a RBI single by Garris Gonce to score Yaron Peters and give Carolina a 1-0 lead. Vanderbilt came right back in the bottom half of the inning with a RBI single by Sean Luellwitz to tie the game at one.
Carolina retained the lead in the second inning, scoring one unearned run off Sowers. Singles by Brian Buscher and Landon Powell put two runners on base for the Gamecocks. After a sacrifice bunt by Kevin Melillo, Buscher scored on a passed ball to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead. USC increased its lead to 3-1 in the third inning as Justin Harris knocked in Trey Dyson to put USC up by two runs.
The Gamecocks added another run in the sixth inning. Up 3-1 with one out, freshman Kevin Melillo laced a single up the middle to score Buscher and give the Gamecocks a three-run lead. Starting his fifth game of the season, the RBI single was Melillo’s first of the season.
With a 4-3 lead, Gonce hit his 10th home run of the year to put USC back on top by two runs. Carolina scored another insurance run in the eighth inning. With two outs and Drew Meyer on second base, Steve Thomas knocked his 14th double of the year to right center to put Carolina ahead 6-3. Vanderbilt cut the Gamecock lead to 6-4 in the bottom half of the inning as Sean Luellwitz knocked a home run over the left field wall.
USC finished its scoring in the top of the ninth inning as Buscher lined an RBI double to right center with two outs to score Gonce putting the Gamecocks on top by three runs. Tony Mansalino hit a two-out home run off Rawl in the ninth inning for Vanderbilt to cut the score to 7-5.
South Carolina and Vanderbilt will continue the three-game series tomorrow afternoon with first pitch at 3 p.m. ET. Junior LHP Steven Bondurant is scheduled to pitch for the Gamecocks while Vanderbilt will go with senior RHP Jeff Little.