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June 12, 2004

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Columbia, S.C. – Matt Campbell pitched five shutout innings and Steve Pearce belted a solo homer lifting South Carolina to a 4-2 win over East Carolina in the opener of its best-of-three NCAA Super Regional before 5,577 at Sarge Frye Field on Saturday despite a 4-hour, 28-minute rain delay in the top of the sixth inning.

With the win, South Carolina’s ninth in a row, the Gamecocks improved to 49-15 overall and take a 1-0 lead in the series. The Pirates dropped to 51-12. The second game of the series is scheduled to begin at noon on Sunday.

The Gamecocks opened the scoring in the fourth inning. Bryan Triplett led off the frame with a single to center, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Landon Powell drove in Triplett with a two-out single to right field for a 1-0 South Carolina lead.

South Carolina stretched its lead to 2-0 in the fifth inning. Michael Campbell led off with a double to right center and eventually scored from third on Steven Tolleson’s bunt single with two outs.

After the rain delay, Pearce greeted ECU relief pitcher Matt Bishop with a homer to left center, his 20th of the season, for a 3-0 USC lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Powell followed with a walk, advanced to second on Kevin Melillo’s sacrifice bunt, and scored on Michael Campbell’s sharp single to left for a 4-0 South Carolina advantage.

East Carolina’s Ryan Jones doubled off the wall in right with two outs in the eighth and scored on Ryan Norwood’s double to left off USC relief pitcher Jason Fletcher cutting the margin to 4-1. Mike Grace followed with an RBI single to center off South Carolina closer Chad Blackwell that scored Norwood for a 4-2 South Carolina lead.

Matt Campbell (10-4), who threw 76 pitches, picked up the win allowing four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Blackwell earned his 18th save of the season blanking the Pirates over the final 1 1/3 innings.

ECU’s Greg Bunn (10-1) suffered his first loss of the season surrendering two runs on five hits over five innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out eight.