May 3, 2002
Columbia – Fourth ranked South Carolina answered a 10 run Mississippi third inning with nine of its own in the bottom of the inning Friday night and defeated the ninth ranked Rebels 17-12 in the opener of a weekend Southeastern Conference baseball series.
The second of the three game set is scheduled for 6 p.m., Saturday at Sarge Frye Field. Chris Spigner, 6-0, the third South Carolina pitcher restored order and was credited with the win although he needed help from Blake Taylor who earned his 14th save. Al Simontis, the third of four Mississippi pitchers, took the loss. His record dropped to 4-2.
South Carolina improved to 36-10 overall, 15-6 in the conference while Mississippi dropped to 34-12, 13-9. The Gamecocks remained a game and a half ahead of Florida in the SEC Eastern Division race and moved to within half a game of Western Division leader Alabama in the overall SEC standings. Florida edged Mississippi State 5-4 and Georgia shut out Alabama 5-0 Friday night.
South Carolina scored two runs each in the first and second innings to take a 4-0 lead. Gamecock starter Gary Bell held the Rebels hitless in the first two innings but the Rebels scored 10 runs on nine hits in the third off Bell and reliever Rocky Evans to take a 10-4 lead. Matt Tolbert homered with the bases empty and Jonathan Swearingen hit a two run homer in the inning. Charlie Waite drove in two runs with a double and Mississippi had six other hits in the inning including a triple by Chad Sterbens.
South Carolina set a school record with eight consecutive hits in the bottom of the third and tied a record with nine hits in the inning. The Gamecocks also tied records with four home runs in the inning, and 21 total bases. Garris Gonce homered twice in the inning, only the second time ever that a South Carolina player had done that.
Brian Buscher tied another school record when he hit his fifth triple of the season in the eighth inning. Buscher had one of the four third inning homers, his 11th of the season. Gonce raised his homer total to 13 and Landon Powell hit his sixth.
Yaron Peters, who had five hits in five official at bats and drove in six runs, hit his 17th homer with a runner on base in the first inning. Peters had an RBI double and an RBI single in the third inning and drove in runs with base hits in the fourth and fifth. He walked in his final plate appearance.
Drew Meyer, Buscher and Justin Harris had three hits as South Carolina collected a season high 22 hits to 17 hits by Mississippi. Steve Thomas, Trey Dyson, Gonce and Powell had two hits each as everyone in the Gamecock batting order had at least two hits except second baseman Kevin Melillo who was zero for five.
Sterbens, Swearingen and Seth Smith had three hits apiece for Mississippi and Drew Rogers and Waite had two.
MISSISSIPPI 00(10) 100 010 – 12-17-2
SOUTH CAROLINA 229 201 01x – 17-22-0
Pickens, Bradshaw (3), Simontis (3), Yates (4) and Waite, Gunther (8). Bell, Evans (3), Spigner (3), Taylor (8) and Powell. W-Spigner (6-0). L-Simontis (4-2). Save-Taylor (14). 2B-UM, Christian, Waite; USC, Meyer, Peters, Harris. 3B-UM, Sterbens; USC, Meyer, Buscher. HR-UM, Swearingen (3), Tolbert (2); USC, Gonce 2(13), Peters (17), Buscher (11), Powell (7).