May 4, 2002
Columbia, SC – Fourth ranked South Carolina struck for three home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night, climaxed by a two run walk off shot by Brian Buscher to down ninth ranked Mississippi 6-4 and take a two game lead in a Southeastern Conference baseball series.
The final game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Sunday at Sarge Frye Field. South Carolina improved to 37-10 overall, 16-6 in the conference and Mississippi dropped to 34-13, 13-10. The Gamecocks moved into first place in the overall conference race, half a game ahead of Alabama, which lost 8-7 to Georgia Saturday in 11 innings. In the Eastern Division race the Gamecocks lead Florida by a game and a half and Georgia by two and a half.
South Carolina trailed 4-2 after 8 1/2 innings and Mississippi closer T. J. Beam had pitched two hitless innings. Beam retired Landon Powell on a pop up but Justin Harris hit his third home run of the season to cut the Rebel lead to 4-3. Drew Meyer singled but was called out on a stolen base attempt. Gamecock coach Ray Tanner argued the call by umpire Wayne Halbrook.
Steve Thomas had a two strike count but hit the first pitch by Beam after the argument over the left field fence to tie the score. It was the seventh homer by Thomas. Yaron Peters, with the count a ball and two strikes, doubled to right center field, his second double of the game.
Buscher, who was hitless in four trips with three strikeouts, swung and missed and fouled off a pitch. With the count zero and two he hit a towering drive to right center that barely cleared the wall for the game winner. It was the 12th homer of the season for Buscher.
Freshman right-hander Aaron Rawl, 2-1, pitched three hitless innings in relief of starter David Marchbanks to earn the win. Beam’s record evened at 2-2.
Prior to the ninth inning rally South Carolina’s only lead was 1-0 on an unearned run without a hit in the first inning. Meyer walked, raced to third on a muffed pickoff attempt by Rebel first baseman Dustin Clyburn, and scored on a passed ball.
Mississippi scored three runs in the third inning on a hit batter, a two run home run by Chad Sterbens, his third, an error by Melillo and hits by Josh Christian and Drew Rogers.
Garris Gonce cut the Mississippi lead to 3-2 with his 14th home run in the fourth inning, the first hit off Mississippi starter Pete Montrenes, but the Rebels restored the lead totwo runs on a homer by Rogers in the sixth inning, his fifth.
South Carolina had 10 hits, four of them in the ninth inning and Mississippi had six, all in the first six innings off Marchbanks. Harris, Meyer and Peters had two hits for the Gamecocks. Sterbens and Rogers had two hits for Mississippi.
MISSISSIPPI 003 001 000 – 4-6-1
SOUTH CAROLINA 100 100 004 – 6-10-1
Montrenes, Beam (7) and Waite. Marchbanks, Rawl (7) and Powell. W-Rawl (2-1). L-Beam (2-2). Save-None. 2B-Peters 2, Harris. HR-UM, Sterbens (3), Rogers (5); USC, Gonce (14), Harris (3), Thomas (7), Buscher (12).