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April 11, 2009

Box Score

Oxford, Miss. – South Carolina left-handed pitcher Nolan Belcher hurled his first complete game and backed by a two-homer game by Bobby Haney and another home run by Nick Ebert earned an 8-1 victory over No. 14 Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field. The win clinches the series for Carolina and improves the Gamecocks to 23-11 and 7-7 in the SEC. The loss drops Ole Miss to 24-10 and 8-6 in conference play. The Gamecocks go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon with first pitch at 1 pm ET. The game time was moved due to forecasted inclement weather in the Oxford, Miss. area.

For the second consecutive week, Belcher kept the opponent at bay as he scattered nine hits vs. the Rebels throughout nine innings. Belcher also ended an inning with a pickoff at second base and the Gamecocks twice ended frames with catcher Justin Dalles throwing out a runner trying to steal second base. Belcher struck out eight and walked three as well as he improved to 2-1 on the year. Ole Miss starter Phillip Irwin suffered the loss and is 5-2 for the season. He went 6.2 innings and yielded six runs, five earned, on nine hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

“It was far from easy,” said head coach Ray Tanner. “I’m just very proud of Nolan Belcher and his gutsy performance today, on the road against a team as good as Ole Miss. He was able to locate, (he) gave up a few hits but we scored for him. We played great. We picked a runner off, Dalles threw out a couple base stealers. We did everything we needed to do to get a win.”

Haney gave South Carolina a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning with his first home run of the game, a two-run homer to right center off of Irwin. After Justin Dalles drew a two-out walk, Haney launched a 1-0 pitch from Irwin for his second home run of the season.

The Rebels cut Carolina’s lead to one run in the bottom of the third as Tim Ferguson reached base with a leadoff triple and would be driven in by Jordan Henry, who reached base on a Gamecock fielding error by Haney at shortstop.

Carolina extended the lead back to two runs in the top of the fourth as Andrew Crisp doubled with two outs and scored on Justin Dalles’ RBI single. Dalles ripped an 0-2 pitch from Irwin through the left side giving Carolina a 3-1 advantage.

South Carolina increased that advantage to 6-1 in the fifth inning with three runs, all coming with two outs. After a walk to DeAngelo Mack, the Gamecocks tallied the second home run of the game as Nick Ebert crushed a first pitch from Irwin over the center field wall. The homer was Ebert’s team-leading 12th of the year. Jackie Bradley, Jr. kept the hit parade going with a base hit and would score from first base on Parker Bangs’ RBI double down the left field line.

South Carolina completed the scoring in the top of the ninth inning with two more runs. Haney led off with a solo homer, his second of the day and Ebert drove in his third run of the game with a RBI double scoring Merrifield.

Belcher closed out the ninth and the game with a pair of strikeouts and a fielder’s choice to pick up his first complete game of his young career with the Garnet & Black. It was the second complete game by a Gamecock pitcher this year. Blake Cooper hurled the other complete game in a 4-2 win at Kentucky on March 29.

South Carolina tallied 13 hits to Ole Miss’ nine on the afternoon. Andrew Crisp was the leading hitter with a 3-for-4 day at the plate. Haney’s 2-for-4 day featured three RBI, tying his career-high. Ebert also tied his career-high with four RBI with 2-for-5 game at the plate. Eight of nine Gamecock starters tallied at least one hit. Jordan Henry, Zach Miller and Tim Ferguson each had two hits apiece to lead Ole Miss.

The series victory over Ole Miss marked the first time since 1998 that the road team between South Carolina and Ole Miss has won a series. The Gamecocks also won that series in ’98 over the Rebels.