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May 31, 2002


Columbia, S.C. –

South Carolina hit three solo home runs in the bottom of the fifth after VCU pitcher Davy Martin retired USC’s first 12 batters as South Carolina defeated the Rams of VCU 6-3 in NCAA Baseball Regional Action today. Carolina pitcher Gary Bell got the win after pitching 8 2/3 innings and became the 14th pitcher in South Carolina history to record 20 wins in a career.

VCU (38-26) will face James Madison in Game Three on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. EDT with James Madison being the home team in a loser’s bracket match-up. The win by South Carolina (49-14) sets up a border war with North Carolina Saturday at 3:00 p.m. EDT at Sarge Frye Field in Columbia, S.C. Despite playing the game in Columbia, North Carolina will be the home team in the Battle of the Carolinas.

South Carolina scored six runs off of eight hits and committed three errors. Virginia Commonwealth scored three runs off of seven hits and committed no errors. The three errors by the Gamecocks was the most errors committed in a game since May 19th in a 4-2 victory over Georgia.

VCU took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning with second baseman Nick Jones leading off the Rams inning with a single to center field. VCU right fielder Rigo Orozco struck out swinging to give the Rams one out. Jones then advanced to third as Carolina pitcher Gary Bell, in a pick-off attempt, threw the ball over first baseman Yaron Peters head and the ball sailed into right field. Jeff Parrish reached first base after catcher’s interference was called on Gamecock catcher Landon Powell. Parrish then advanced to second after a throwing error by Powell. That gave the Rams runners at second and third with one out. VCU left fielder Joe Jackson reached on base on a fielder’s choice and recorded a RBI as Jones scored. VCU would be unable to score in the remainder of the inning.

South Carolina came up in the bottom of the fifth inning with Yaron Peters leading off. Peters sent a solo shot over the left center fence, tying the game at one apiece. The next batter, designated hitter Trey Dyson, grounded out to first to give USC one out. Garris Gonce came up next and followed Peters lead as he also hit a solo home run over the left-center fence putting the Gamecocks up by one. Justin Harris kept the Gamecock rally alive as he sent a solo home run over the left field fence putting Carolina up 3-1. That would be all Carolina would be able to produce in that inning as they scored three runs off of three hits.

VCU came up in the top of the ninth down 6-1 with one out as Danny Lopaze singled to right field. Nick Jones hit a double to left field, advancing Lopaze to third. Lopaze then scored on a wild pitch by Gary Bell and Jones advanced to third. Rigo Orozco struck out swinging, giving the Rams two outs. Jeff Parrish singled to center field, scoring Jones and cutting the Gamecock lead to 6-3. True freshman Aaron Rawl came into pitch for the Gamecocks and gave up singles to the next two batters, Joe Jackson and Lake Tronick, to give the Rams bases loaded with two outs. Matt Davis was up next and hit a high fly ball into right field, but it wasn’t enough as it was caught by USC right fielder Tim Seaton, playing for Steve Thomas, and the Gamecocks won 6-3.

“You have to give Carolina a lot of credit,” said VCU Head Coach Paul Keyes. “They play very well in this ballpark and it was evident today. They hit our pitches and played a fine game. It’s really hard to get into the loser’s bracket and come back, but that’s what we are going to have to do now.”

“We are very happy to be able to win the game and advance,” said Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner. “I knew VCU was going to be difficult. I was glad to see some balls fly. We had a couple of big homeruns and we were able to win. Gary bell settled in and enabled us to win.”