June 1, 2002
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina sent three baseballs over the outfield wall in a slug fest in Columbia, S.C. today as the Gamecocks defeated the Tar Heels of North Carolina 9-6 in NCAA Regional Baseball action. With the win, South Carolina (50-14) advances to the championship game of the Regional bracket for the third straight year. The win for USC marks the third time in school history the Gamecocks have recorded 50 wins in a season.
North Carolina (41-20) falls to the loser’s bracket of the double elimination tournament and now faces James Madison, who they defeated 5-0 on Friday, in an elimination game. The winner advances to face South Carolina in the Regional Championship Saturday at 1:30 p.m. EDT at Sarge Frye Field in Columbia, S.C.
South Carolina scored nine runs off of 14 hits and only committed one error. North Carolina scored six runs off of nine hits and also committed one error. South Carolina first baseman Yaron Peters hit two home runs, which tied, and broke, the South Carolina school record for number of home runs hit in a season. That record was previously held by Joe Datin (23) and was set in 1985. Peters now has 85 RBIs on the season, three short of tying the current school record. The current record (88 RBIs) is held by Joe Datin and was also set in 1985.
South Carolina came out firing, scoring six of their nine runs in the top of the first. Shortstop Drew Meyer led off with a single to center field. Right fielder Steve Thomas hit a double to left field, which scored Meyer. Yaron Peters was up next and hit a home run to left center, tying the school record. That gave the Gamecocks a 3-0 advantage over the Tar Heels, with no outs. Brian Buscher kept the rally alive as he singled, then advanced to second on an error by UNC third baseman Chris Maples. Garris Gonce walked to give USC runners at first and second with no outs. North Carolina then brought in Carter Harrell to pitch, relieving Daniel Moore.
Designated hitter Demetric Smith fouled out to the third baseman to record the first out of the inning. Justin Harris came up next and gave the Gamecocks two outs as he flied out to center field. Catcher Landon Powell was next up to bat and hit a hard shot over the right-center fence for a three-run homerun and a 6-0 South Carolina lead. Kevin Melillo singled to center field and Drew Meyer walked to put runners at first and second with two outs. However, Steve Thomas hit into a fielder’s choice as the Tar Heels escaped the inning as they got Drew Meyer out at second.
North Carolina came up in the bottom of the first and leadoff batter Adam Greenberg singled into center field. Short stop Russ Adams flied out to left field, giving UNC one out. Sean Farrell came up next and hit a double to left field, scoring Greenberg. Chris Maples flied out to center, giving UNC two outs as Farrell advanced to third. Jeremy Cleveland then hit a single to short, scoring Farrell. Ron Braun flied out to center ending the inning for North Carolina.
South Carolina scored again in the top of the second as leadoff batter Yaron Peters broke the school record for home runs in a season as he sent the ball sailing over the left center fence, putting South Carolina up 7-2. That would be all the Gamecocks would be able to muster that inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, North Carolina first baseman Jeremy Cleveland singled to center field to start off the inning for the Tar Heels. Ron Braun came up next and singled to right field, advancing Cleveland to second. Chad Prosser also hit a single into right field, loading the bases for UNC. Catcher Chris Iannetta hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Cleveland and cutting the Gamecock lead to four. Ron Braun advanced to third and Prosser advanced to second on a passed ball thrown by USC pitcher David Marchbanks. Marchbanks then walked Mell Adams to load the bases. Adam Greenberg struck out swinging to give the Tar Heels one out. Mell Adams then advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Russ Adams then singled to right field, scoring Prosser and Mell Adams. That cut the Tar Heel deficit to only two runs. Sean Farrell walked, advancing Russ Adams to second. USC then brought in Chris Spigner to pitch for Marchbanks. Chris Maples walked to load the bases. Jeremy Cleveland then flied out to left field to end the inning for the Tar Heels. South Carolina scored two more runs in the top of the eighth to take a 9-6 lead over North Carolina and the Tar Heels would be unable to score again in the game. “This was a true backyard brawl….a great college baseball game….two very good teams going at each other,” said South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner. “We jumped out of the blocks early and had a great first inning but North Carolina didn’t have an at-bat yet and I knew they were going to come at us. That’s the way it is when you play great teams. We were very fortunate we were able to stave them off.”