June 2, 2002
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina senior pitcher Blake Taylor, the national saves leader with 20, pitched a complete game and struck out 11 batters in Sunday’s second game as the Gamecocks came back from an earlier defeat Sunday to North Carolina to down the Tar Heels, 3-1, to win the Columbia regional and advance to next weekend’s Super Regional.
South Carolina (51-15) faces defending national champion Miami (Fla.) in next weekend’s Super Regional at Sarge Frye Field. Play will start in the best two-out-of-three series Friday with times to be announced Monday. North Carolina ends its season with a record of 43-21.
The Gamecocks wasted little time in rebounding from Sunday’s first game, an 8-4 loss, as Regional Most Valuable Player Yaron Peters crushed a two-run home run in the top of the first inning to give Carolina a 2-0 lead. South Carolina had multiple opportunities to extend the lead over the next three innings, but superb Tar Heel defense stymied the Gamecocks and Carolina had a 2-0 lead entering the bottom of the fifth.
In that frame, North Carolina’s Chad Prosser hit just his second home run of the season to pull the Tar Heels to within one. The lead stayed at one until Peters jacked his second home run of the game to lead off the top of the eighth inning. The senior had six home runs in the regional and over the weekend set both the USC single season home run (27) and RBI (90) records.
The Gamecocks were energized by Taylor’s performance, and Carolina got great defense to back up the senior in the seventh with an unorthodox double play. After Taylor hit Adam Greenberg with a pitch, he induced Russ Adams to hit into a 3-6-4 double play. Adams grounder was fielded by USC’s Peters at first base, who threw to shortstop Drew Meyer to force Greenberg, then Meyer threw a strike to second baseman Justin Harris – covering first – for the double play.
Taylor finished the game by getting back-to-back called strikeouts then with the tying run at the plate, finished the complete game by getting Adams to ground out to Peters at first.
Peters was three-for-four with two runs scored and drove in all three South Carolina runs. He hit a home run in Sunday’s first game and had 28 total bases in four games in the regional. Garry Bakker, the North Carolina starter, got the loss (6-3) after giving up two runs on three hits in going the first two innings for the Tar Heels. Taylor ran his record to 6-1 with the victory.
NCAA Baseball Regional All-Tournament Team
C #10 Landon Powell South Carolina1B #32 Yaron Peters South Carolina2B #10 Greg Mangum North Carolina3B #15 Russ Adams North CarolinaSS #7 Drew Meyer South CarolinaOF #29 Sean Farrell North CarolinaOF #5 Justin Harris South CarolinaOF #15 Steve Thomas South CarolinaDH #6 Ron Braun North CarolinaP #17 Scott Autrey North CarolinaP #42 Blake Taylor South Carolina
Tournament MVP #32 Yaron Peters, South Carolina