May 17, 2002
Athens, Ga. – Landon Powell batted 5-for-5 with a HR and Blake Taylor earned his nation-leading 17th save of the season as fourth ranked South Carolina held on to defeat Georgia 11-9, in the first of a three-game SEC baseball series. South Carolina is now 42-12 on the season and 19-8 in the SEC, while Georgia drops to 30-23 on the year and 15-13 in the SEC. South Carolina is now two games ahead of Florida in the SEC East and can clinch the SEC Eastern Division with a win. The Gamecocks and Bulldogs play game two of the series, Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Aaron Rawl earned the win in relief for USC improving his record to 4-1, while Mickey Westphal takes the loss for Georgia dropping his record to 5-4.
Both teams combined for nine home runs and 32 hits, including 16 extra-base hits. Carolina has now hit 29 home runs in the last 11 games and this was the 29th game this season that the Gamecocks have had at least two home runs.
South Carolina jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two innings on the hot bat of Steve Thomas. With one out in the first inning Thomas launched his eighth home run of the season to center field to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, Carolina loaded the bases as Justin Harris and Landon Powell each singled and Kevin Melillo was hit by a pitch. With two outs and a 2-2 count, Thomas knocked a double off the right field wall, clearing the bases and giving USC a 4-0 lead.
Georgia came right back in the bottom half of the inning with three runs of their own, cutting the Carolina lead to 4-3. Matt Cavender scored from second to home on an error by Landon Powell and Justin McClain knocked a two-run homer to left field off of Carolina starter Steven Bondurant, bring the Bulldogs with one run. The Bulldogs chased Bondurant in the fourth inning as Lee Mitchell led of the bottom half with his 12th home run of the year knotting the game at four.
Tied 4-4, Carolina regained the lead in the top of the fifth as Trey Dyson slammed his 16th home run of the season almost over the scoreboard in right centerfield, putting USC on top 5-4.
The Gamecocks increased the lead to 7-4 in the sixth inning. Brian Buscher knocked a RBI single off of Bulldog pitcher Brandon Moorhead into right field to score Drew Meyer, and Yaron Peters scored off a wild pitch, giving USC a three-run lead.
Georgia got a run back in the bottom of the sixth inning as Clint Sammons knocked his 7th home run of the season for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with two outs, but reliever Chris Spigner was able to get out of the jam, striking out Cavender looking to end the Georgia rally.
Landon Powell increased Carolina’s lead back to three runs in the seventh inning as he hit his ninth home run of the season to left field off of Bulldog reliever Scott Lawson. The Bulldogs responded again in the bottom half as Justin McClain hit his second home run of the game, a two-run shot, bringing Georgia within one, 8-7.
Carolina added some insurance runs in the eighth inning as Gary Bell ripped a three-run homer to right field for Carolina’s fourth home run of the game, giving the Gamecocks an 11-7 lead. Georgia responded to Carolina with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning as Adam Swann knocked a two-run homer to right center off Taylor.