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Feb. 10, 2006

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Columbia, S.C. – USC outfielder Cheyne Hurst went 5-for-6 and Robbie Grinestaff drove in the winning run on a muffed potential double play ground ball scoring Chris Brown in the bottom of the 11th inning as 14th ranked South Carolina edged Elon 5-4 in the baseball season opener for both teams.

The second of the three game series is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Saturday at Sarge Frye Field.

South Carolina trailed 4-1 after 5 ½ innings but Gamecock relief pitcher Andy Lambert and Shawn Valdes-Fauli retired 17 of the final 18 Phoenix batters to hold Elon scoreless into the extra innings.

Valdes-Fauli retired all of the eight batters he faced to earn the win. Freshman right-hander Tom Porter, the fifth Elon pitcher, took the loss.

Chris Brown beat out an infield hit to open the Gamecock 11th inning. Cheyne Hurst laid down a bunt and beat it out for his fifth hit in his first game as a Gamecock. He is a junior from St. Petersburg junior College. Reese Havens sacrificed the runners to second and third for the first out and Neil Giesler was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Grinestaff hit a ground ball to Elon second baseman Donny Jobe who flipped the baseball to shortstop Paul Bennett attempting to end the inning with Elon’s fourth double play of the game. Bennett muffed the throw for an error as Brown crossed the plate with the winning run. Since a ground ball double play cannot be assumed the run was earned.

Elon jumped out to a two run lead in the first inning. Jobe reached on an error. Bennett’s bunt went for an infield hit and Chris Price got the first of his three hits to load the bases with no outs. Grant Rembert’s single scored Jobe and Bennett.

South Carolina cut the deficit to one run in the fourth innings when freshman Justin Smoak drove in Giesler with a single but Elon got the run back in the fifth to make it 3-1. Jobe singled, stole second and scored on a hit by Price.

Adam Wheeler doubled, moved to third on a hit by Ryan Addison, and scored on a wild pitch to widen the lead to 4-1 in the sixth inning. Addison’s hit was the 10th and final hit of the game by Elon as the only Phoenix base runner over the final five innings was a ninth inning walk to Price.

Michael Campbell was hit by a pitch with two outs in the Gamecock sixth, moved to second on a walk to Smoak and scored South Carolina’s second run on a single by Mark Stanley.

The Gamecocks tied it at 4-4, with two seventh inning runs. A single by Hurst, a walk to Havens and a single by Giesler loaded the bases. Hurst scored on an infield hit by Grinestaff and a sacrifice fly by Campbell drove in Havens to tie the score.

South Carolina had 12 hits in the game, all singles. `In addition to five by Hurst, Giesler and Stanley had two hits. Elon had 10 hits including doubles by Price and Weaver. Price led Elon with three hits and Bennett had two.


South Carolina now leads the series history with Elon 5-2.

Under head coach Ray Tanner, the Gamecocks are 9-1 in season openers.

Under head coach Ray Tanner, the Gamecocks are 3-1 against Elon. This is the first time in school history that South Carolina is facing Elon in a three-game series.

Dating back to the 2000 season, South Carolina is 60-1 (.984) in games played in the month of February. The lone loss in February came on Feb. 8, 2003 when Charleston Southern defeated USC 8-5. The Gamecocks wound up winning the series two out of three games. USC’s current February winning streak is at 26 games.

Cheyne Hurst’s 5-for-6 performance made him the first player to have five hits in a game since Steve Pearce vs. Niagara on Feb. 26, 2005.

Andy Lambert tied a career-high with six strikeouts in four innings of relief work on Friday. Lambert and junior right-hander Shawn Valdes-Fauli did now allow a hit in the final 5 2/3 innings of the game for USC.

In 114 years, Friday’s game marked the first South Carolina season opener to go into extra innings. South Carolin went into the extra innings once in the 2005 season, a 6-5 loss in 10 innings at Tennessee on May 7. The 11-inning contest was Carolina’s longest since March 19, 2004 when USC dropped a 6-3 contest vs. LSU at Sarge Frye Field.