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June 6, 2004

Box Score?|? Quotes?|? Notes

Columbia, S.C. – Led by a 3-for-4, two RBI performance at the plate by tournament Most Valuable Player Steve Pearce, and a solid relief outing by Jason Fletcher, the South Carolina baseball team claimed a 7-6 victory over North Carolina in the championship game of the Columbia, S.C., NCAA Regional at Sarge Frye Field on Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks advance to face the winner of the Kinston, N.C., Regional, which will be completed on Monday, in next weekend’s Super Regional.

On the strength of three hits, including an RBI single by Pearce, who had nine RBI in the tournament, the Gamecocks (48-15) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After Steven Tolleson led off the frame with a double to left center, Pearce drove him in with one out. South Carolina then loaded the bases and eventually chased Tar Heel (43-21) starter Garry Bakker, as Landon Powell walked and Kevin Melillo singled. Brendan Winn then drew a walk from Bakker to plate Pearce and an RBI groundout by Michael Campbell off of reliever Robert Woodard scored Powell.

The Gamecocks tacked on another run when Pearce struck again in the top of the second inning, as his double to left scored Mark Stanley, who led off the frame with a single to left.

North Carolina did not go away, scoring a pair of runs in each of the next two innings to knot things at 4-4. In the bottom of the second, Sammy Hewitt drew a walk from South Carolina starter Billy Buckner and later came around to score on a single by Justin Webb. Webb then moved to second when Bryan Steed reached on an error and scored on Greg Mangum’s single to center.

In the third inning, the Tar Heels again took advantage of Gamecock mistakes, as Chris Iannetta led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on a single by Marshall Hubbard. A sacrifice bunt by Hewitt moved both Iannetta and Hubbard over a base before Iannetta scored on a wild pitch by Buckner and Hubbard came across on a Buckner error on the same play.

Fletcher (5-1) came on in relief of Buckner in the fourth inning and went four innings for South Carolina, allowing just one run, while scattering four hits and striking out five. Chad Blackwell worked the ninth to earn his 17th save of the year.

The scoring continued in top of the fourth inning, as Pearce reached base after being hit by a pitch and scored on Kevin Melillo’s ninth home run of the year, which came off of UNC reliever Andrew Milller (6-3) and cleared the right field fence, making the score 6-4 in favor of South Carolina. Miller took the loss after tossing just two innings and allowing three runs, two of which were earned.

In the sixth inning, the Gamecocks added another run to take a 7-4, as Tollleson and Bryan Triplett both walked to lead off frame, with Tolleson scoring on an error by North Carolina left fielder Mike Daniel on Pearce’s single off of the fourth North Carolina pitcher of the day, Michael Gross.

The Tar Heels cut the lead to 7-5 after loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth on three-straight singles by Matt Ellington, Daniel and Webb, with Ellington scoring when Bryan Steed grounded into a double play. North Carolina scored its final run in the bottom of the ninth when Steed, who led off with a single, was plated by an RBI single by Iannetta, before Blackwell struck out Hubbard and Hewitt, stranding the tying run at second.

This year will mark the Gamecocks’ fifth-straight trip to the NCAA Super Regional, as South Carolina has advanced to the College World Series in each of the past two seasons.


C – Chris Iannetta, North Carolina
1B – Steve Pearce, South Carolina
2B – Kevin Melillo, South Carolina
3B – Bryan Triplett, South Carolina
SS – Brett Grandstrand, Coastal Carolina
OF – Mark Stanley, South Carolina
OF – Mike Daniel, North Carolina
OF – Michael Campbell, South Carolina
OF – Marshall Hubbard, North Carolina
DH – Mark Egleton, The Citadel
P – Matt Campbell, South Carolina
P – Jonathan Ellis, The Citadel

MVP – Steve Pearce, South Carolina