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April 4, 2009

Box Score

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina starting pitcher Nolan Belcher pitched a career-high 8.1 innings and limited Arkansas to just one run on four hits as the Gamecocks bounced back for a 9-1 win over the Razorbacks to take game two of an SEC baseball series. Nick Ebert added two home runs and freshman Adam Matthews hit the first Gamecock inside the park home run in eight years as Carolina improved to 20-9 and 5-6 in the SEC. The loss drops the Razorbacks to 21-6 and 9-2 in conference play. The rubber game of the series is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET with live video broadcast at and on the Gamecock Radio Network.

Belcher worked a season-high 8.1 innings and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning. He also struck out a season-high nine batters and limited Arkansas to just three walks. The victory was Belcher’s first of his career at Carolina and improves him to 1-1 for the year. Arkansas starter TJ Forrest took the loss and is 2-2 on the year. He allowed four runs on four hits in 4.1 innings of work.

It may not always be the case in baseball, but normally it starts and ends with the guy on the mound, and certainly Nolan Belcher gave us a tremendous outing today,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “He gave us the chance to win the game. We got a few runs and two homeruns from (Nick) Ebert, but Nolan was very special today.”

For the second consecutive day, South Carolina out-hit Arkansas with a 10-4 advantage on the afternoon. Ebert blasted a two-run homer in the first inning and added a solo shot in the eighth inning. His home run was followed up by Matthews, who scored on the inside the park homer. Matthews drove a pitch that bounced off the wall in left field. On the play, Arkansas left fielder Collin Kuhn tried to jump to catch the ball but couldn’t get a hold of it and Matthews flew around the bases to score an exciting home run. The last time a Gamecock hit and inside the park home run was Garris Gonce on May 19, 2001 in South Carolina’s 7-6 win over Mississippi State at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.

Without question, he’s one of the fastest guys in the country, just flat running,” said Coach Tanner. “He’s got to continue to improve with his instinct on the bases. When you just talk about going, he can go and when he hit that ball and I saw it kick back a little, I thought you’ve got to try it, we’re up seven or eight runs so we had to go for it. You saw him run; he’s pretty fluid out there. That was fun to watch.”

Ebert finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBI. Matthews was 2-for-2 with two RBI and Bobby Haney added two hits as well. Arkansas’ leading hitter was Scott Lyons, who went 2-for-4 with a RBI.

The Gamecocks got out of the gates fast with a pair of runs in the first inning. DeAngelo Mack drew a two-out walk and scored on Ebert’s two-run homer to left center. Ebert drilled the first pitch from Forrest over the left centerfield wall for his team-leading 10th home run of the season. That lead extended to 3-0 in the second inning. Andrew Crisp opened the frame with a base hit and would score on a two-out RBI single from Haney.

A four-run fifth inning put Carolina in the driver’s seat. Whit Merrifield drove in a run with a RBI double that was followed by consecutive walks to Mack and Ebert setting the stage for Matthews. In a pinch-hit appearance for designated hitter Jeffery Jones, Matthews knocked a base hit into center field scoring a run. South Carolina also took advantage of a wild pitch to score the final two runs of the inning.

Arkansas got to Belcher for a run in the eighth inning as Chase Leavitt reached base on a two-out double and scored on Scott Lyons RBI base hit. South Carolina came back with the two dramatic homers in the eighth inning to close out the scoring.