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March 8, 2009

Box Score

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Long Beach State jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings and first baseman Steve Tinoco hit three home runs as the Dirtbags held off a late rally to defeat 18th ranked South Carolina 10-7 on Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. Long Beach State improves to 3-7 while handing South Carolina its first loss of the year. The Gamecocks still took two of three games in the series though and are 8-1 on the year. Carolina returns to action on Monday night hosting Presbyterian with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. Live video broadcast is available at

Long Beach State starter Andrew Gagnon earned the win after five-plus innings of work. He allowed four runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Reliever Charlie Ruiz picked up the save with 1.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. It was his second save of the season. The loss went to Carolina’s Blake Cooper, who yielded six runs on eight hits in 1.2 innings pitched.

With a 1-0 lead after the first inning, Long Beach State exploded for five more runs in the second inning. Tinoco led off with his first homer of the day to give LBSU a two-run cushion. With two outs and a runner on first base, the Dirtbags knocked Cooper with four consecutive hits courtesy of Jordan Casas, Derek Legg, T.J. Mittelstaedt and Devin Lohman. Legg’s single drove in a run with Mittelstaedt doubling home two and Lohman also recording a RBI base hit. Tinoco would also lead off the third inning with a solo homer to center giving LBSU the 7-0 lead.

Carolina mounted a comeback beginning in the third inning as Bobby Haney doubled and scored on a RBI single from Whit Merrifield. After a scoreless fourth, Merrifield would come through again for Carolina in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run cutting LBSU’s lead to 7-2. The sixth inning would see the Gamecocks get to LBSU starter Andrew Gagnon as Andrew Crisp launched a two-run homer that was followed up by a solo homer from pinch hitter Justin Dalles bringing the Gamecocks within two runs.

Long Beach State bounced back in the seventh inning though and were able to take advantage of a Gamecock error to score two insurances runs. With one out and Jonathan Jones on first base, Gamecock reliever Parker Bangs looked to have Jones picked off. On the pickoff, Carolina attempted to nab Jones at second on the tag but could not as the ball was dropped by second baseman Casey Rihn allowing Jones to reach second base. With the bases loaded and two away, LBSU then scored a pair of runs as Rylan Sandoval delivered with a two-run single to right field.

Carolina battled back in the bottom of the seventh to score a run as Nick Ebert opened the frame with a solo homer, his third of the year. After setting down the Dirtbags in the top half of the eighth, the Gamecocks scored another run as DeAngelo Mack tallied a two-out RBI single up the middle to score Merrifield. With the bases loaded and two outs, LBSU closer Charlie Ruiz was able to get out of the jam as he induced Carolina’s Jeffery Jones into a ground out to the first baseman to end the inning and keeping Long Beach ahead by a pair of runs.

That lead would increase again to three in the top of the ninth as Tinoco blasted his third homer of the day over the right field wall. Tinoco became the first opposing player to hit three home runs against the Gamecocks since Rodney Nye of Arkansas hit three on May 16, 1999 in Fayetteville, Ark. Long Beach State had 17 hits in the afternoon. Tinoco was 5-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and four runs scored as well. Legg had three hits with Jordan Casas and Jonathan Jones also tallying two apiece to lead LBSU. Whit Merrifield was Carolina’s leading hitter with a 3-for-4 day at the plate. He tied a career-high in hits. Jackie Bradley, Jr., Andrew Crisp and Bobby Haney also had two hits apiece.