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May 9, 2009

Box Score

Knoxville, Tenn. – South Carolina stormed back from an early eight-run deficit and rallied with nine runs in the final three innings to stun Tennessee 15-12 in game two of a three-game SEC baseball series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The win saw Carolina take the lead in the ninth inning with four runs including a two-run game-winning single by DeAngelo Mack to break a 12-12 tie. Gamecock reliever Parker Bangs, who also homered in the game, worked two perfect inning of relief and struck out all six batters he faced to pick up the win. Carolina is now 31-19 and 13-13 in the SEC while the loss drops Tennessee to 22-28 and 8-18 in league play. The two teams will meet Sunday in the rubber game with first pitch set for 1 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

Trailing 12-6 entering the top of the seventh inning the Gamecocks began their move with a three-run homer by Bangs. Both Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Justin Dalles drew walks that set the stage for Bangs. With a 2-2 count and two outs, Bangs launched his third home run of the season over the left field wall cutting the deficit to three runs. After Bangs set the Volunteers down in order in the bottom of the seventh, Carolina crept to within one run as Nick Ebert and Dalles each drove in a run in the top of the eighth.

Down 12-11, the Gamecocks then grabbed the lead with four runs off of Tennessee left-hander Bryan Morgado. The inning began with Bangs reaching base on a single. Carolina would send pinch runner Adam Matthews into the game with pinch hitter Casey Rihn looking to bunt. Morgado would hit Rihn on the leg giving Carolina a pair of runners with no outs. The Volunteers would get an out in the inning as a bunt laid down by Scott Wingo would be fielded cleanly by Morgado, who threw to third for the force out on Matthews. With one out but runners on first and second base, Whit Merrifield stroked a RBI double down the left field line to score Rihn and tie the game at 12-12. The Volunteers then drew the infield, looking to possibly nap the go ahead runner at the plate but Mack laced a line drive RBI single that got past Tennessee second baseman Cody Grisham, off of his glove and into center field allowing both runners to score and for the Gamecocks to go ahead for the first time in the game. Mack would eventually score the fourth run of the inning on Justin Dalles’ two-out RBI single.

With a 15-12 lead, Carolina went to left-hander Alex Farotto to close the game out. After a leadoff single by Zach Osborne and a walk to Cody Grisham, the Gamecock stopper dug deep and coaxed pinch hitter Matt Hamaker into a pop up to right field and induced P.J. Polk into a 6-3 ground out double play ending the game and preserving a comeback victory for the Gamecocks.

Bangs earned the win and is now 2-2 on the year with Farotto picking up his seventh save on the year. Tennessee reliever Bryan Morgado suffered the loss and is now 3-2 on the year. He went two innings and allowed four runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Carolina’s triumph was highlighted by several strong performances at the plate on the afternoon. Merrifield tied his career-high in hits with a 5-for-6 day at the plate and also scored three runs and drove in four. Bangs was 2-for-3 with four RBI as well. Mack and Dalles each finished 2-for-5 with two RBI as well. Bradley, Jr., Bobby Haney and Wingo all scored two runs. Nick Ebert and Andrew Crisp added RBIs as well. Tennessee’s top hitter at the plate was Tyler Horne, who belted two homers including a grand slam and finished 3-for-5 with seven RBI on the day. Blake Forsythe was also 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI and Kentrail Davis added two hits with two runs scored as well.

Tennessee came out of the gates strong building a 9-1 lead after the first three innings. Forsythe put Tennessee ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run homer, his 14th of the season. After Davis reached base with a two-out double to left center, Forsythe launched a 1-2 pitch from Belcher over the right centerfield wall to give the Volunteers a two-run lead.

The Gamecocks would get on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning with Merrifield launching a solo home run to left field off of Tennessee starter Aaron Tullo. Merrifield stroked the 2-1 pitch over the left field wall for his 10th home run of the season. He is now the third Gamecock player this year with double-digit home runs.

Tennessee sent 11 batters to the plate in a seven-run third inning. Cody Brown drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a double Davis. The Volunteers would then score the first run of the inning with consecutive walks issued to Forsythe and Cody Hawn. Horne then made Carolinas starter Nolan Belcher pay as he drove a 3-2 pitch from Belcher over the left field wall for a grand slam. It marked Horne’s ninth home run of the season. After Belcher retired both Zach Osborne and Cody Grisham, the Volunteers strung together a single by Jarred Frazier and a RBI double from P.J. Polk for another run. That ended the day for Belcher with Carolina going to the bullpen for freshman left-hander Steven Neff, his first career appearance on the mound. The Volunteers scored their seventh run of the inning with a RBI double by Brown down the left field line to score Polk.

South Carolina responded in the top of the fourth with four runs to cut the deficit to 9-5. Carolina would get two singles by Bradley, Jr. and Dalles followed by a RBI double from Andrew Crisp. Dalles would then score the second run of the inning on a wild pitch by Aaron Tullo. That would be it for the Tennessee starter as the Volunteers went to the pen for left-hander Steven Gruver. Carolina pinch hitter Parker Bangs would drive in Crisp on a RBI sacrifice fly to right field. The Gamecocks weren’t done there though as Bobby Haney drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a ground out by Scott Wingo. Merrifield tallied his second hit of the game then with two outs to score Haney as he drove a base hit through the right side. Carolina almost scored two more runs then as DeAngelo Mack drove a deep fly ball that was caught on the edge of the track against the wall in left center by Polk to end the inning and the Gamecock threat.

South Carolina added a run in the top of the sixth inning to move closer. The Gamecocks scored the run in between an hour and 11 minute rain delay. With two outs and the rain delay over and runners on first and second base, Merrifield tagged reliever Will Locante with a single up the middle scoring Haney and bringing the Gamecocks within three runs. The Volunteers however struck back in the bottom half with Horne hitting his second big home run of the game, this one a three-run shot to left field to give his squad a six-run cushion.