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April 30, 2006

Box Score

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina rallied for five 11th inning runs on dramatic home runs by pinch hitter Jon Willard and Michael Campbell to defeat Mississippi State 9-7 Sunday and win a Southeastern Conference baseball series two games to one before 3,742 fans at Sarge Frye Field.

After Mississippi State took a three run lead in the top of the inning on back to back doubles by Jeffrey Rea and Edward Easley and Thomas Berkery’s two run homer South Carolina tied it on a three run two out pinch homer by Willard. Andrew Crisp was hit by a pitch and Campbell hit a towering game winning drive over the right field fence.

The win boosted South Carolina’s record to 32-12 overall and 13-8 in the SEC, keeping the Gamecocks atop the Eastern Division standings. Freshman left-hander Alex Farotto pitched two thirds of an inning to earn his first career decision.

Chad Crosswhite, who yielded the three run homer to Willard and hit Crisp with a pitch, was charged with the loss, dropping his mark to 0-1. Josh Johnson replaced Crosswhite and Campbell hit Johnson’s second pitch for the game winning homer. The Mississippi State record dropped to 30-15, 9-11 in the Western Division of the SEC.

Willard hit his second three run home run in nine days. He homered with two runners on base while playing left field at Kentucky April 21.

The teams combined for 35 hits, 19 by South Carolina and 16 by Mississippi State. South Carolina left 16 runners on base, hit into three double plays and had one caught stealing. Mississippi State left 12 runners stranded. Bulldog pitchers walked seven and hit three Gamecocks with pitches.

South Carolina missed chances to win the game in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings, leaving seven runners on base in the three frames. The Gamecocks loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth but pinch runner Mark Stanley was out at the plate for a double play attempting to score on a short fly to left field by Trent Kline. Reese Havens was walked intentionally to again load the bases but Chris Brown tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

The Gamecocks scored once in the eighth to take a 4-3 lead but left two base runners stranded and the Bulldogs sent the game into extra innings with a run in the top of the ninth. The win was South Carolina’s third win in four extra inning games this season.

The game started with three consecutive Mississippi State hits, singles by Rea and Easley and a double by Berkery but freshman left-hander Will Atwood, the South Carolina starter, pitched out of the jam allowing just one run. He then shut the Bulldogs out until a run in the sixth inning narrowed a South Carolina lead to 3-2.

The Gamecocks scored twice in the bottom of the first on singles by Cheyne Hurst, Crisp and Neil Giesler wrapped around a sacrifice bunt. Giesler’s hit drove in Hurst and Crisp. Hits by Crisp, and Campbell plus Drew Martin’s RBI ground out increased the Carolina lead to 3-1 in the third inning.

Sixteen of the 19 South Carolina hits were singles. Brown had a second inning double, the only Gamecock extra base hit until the two 11th inning home runs.

Crisp and Campbell each had four hits and Brown, returning to the lineup after missing 10 games with a back injury, had three. Martin, getting a rare start as the designated hitter, had two hits.

Easley had four hits and Rea had three for Mississippi State. Berkery had two hits and three runs batted in. Joseph Hunter, Matt Richardson and Jeff Butts also had two hits for the Bulldogs.

The South Carolina defense played its 27th errorless game in 44 contests this season.

South Carolina plays a non-conference game at Wofford Wednesday night before traveling to Athens for a weekend SEC series with the Georgia Bulldogs.