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May 10, 2009

Box Score

Knoxville, Tenn. – South Carolina belted five home runs including a grand slam homer by Andrew Crisp on its way to a 15-6 win over Tennessee to clinch this weekend’s series as well as a berth in the SEC Tournament for the 13th consecutive season. Carolina’s win coupled with Kentucky’s loss vs. Auburn on Sunday afternoon clinched Carolina’s trip to Hoover, Ala. in two weeks. The win improves Carolina to 32-19 and 14-13 in SEC play, the first time this year that Carolina is above the .500 mark in the league. Tennessee’s loss drops the Volunteers to 22-29 and 8-19 in the league. South Carolina will be back in action on Tuesday with a day-night doubleheader vs. USC Upstate. First pitch for game one is 4 p.m. with the second game scheduled for 7 p.m. or 30 minutes after game one concludes. Both games will be seven innings.

Fresh off a comeback victory last night, the Gamecocks busted out of the gates for four runs in the first, third and fifth innings to go ahead by 12 and backed a solid start by junior right-hander Blake Cooper. Crisp finished the day 3-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBI. Whit Merrifield also had a productive day going 2-for-5 with a homer, three runs scored and three RBI. Jackie Bradley, Jr. also homered and scored three runs and drove in three. Justin Dalles finished 2-for-3 with a homer and two runs scored. Bobby Haney was 2-for-4 with a run scored as well.

Cooper followed up his complete game performance last week with another quality start, this time going seven innings and allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts and four walks. He is now 7-4 on the year. Tennessee starter Adam Adkins suffered the loss and is now 2-1 on the year. He lasted only 0.1 innings and allowed four runs on two hits and two walks.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “We did some good things here after losing that first game. They battled yesterday to come back and earn a win and today we were able to jump out and take an early lead. We were able to capitalize on a couple of walks and had timely hits and I’m delighted to come away with a series win.”

The Gamecocks made quick work of Adkins in the first inning, jumping on him for four runs in the first five at-bats of the game. Both Merrifield and DeAngelo Mack walked and after a Nick Ebert ground out advanced the runners to second and third base, would score on a three-run homer by Jackie Bradley, Jr. The Gamecock freshman outfielder launched a 1-1 pitch over the right centerfield wall for his ninth home run of the season. Justin Dalles followed Bradley with a solo shot to left field for his 10th round tripper of the season, ending the day for Adkins. The back-to-back homers marked the first time since May 2 vs. Vanderbilt when Whit Merrifield and DeAngelo Mack hit consecutive home runs.

Carolina came back with four more runs to extend the lead to 8-0 on the back of a grand slam home run by Andrew Crisp. Tennessee reliever Ryne Simpson hit Nick Ebert to open the inning followed by walks by reliever Joey Rosas to Bradley and Dalles that set the stage for Crisp. On Rosas first pitch, Crisp launched his ninth home run of the season over the left field wall. Crisp’s grand slam marked Carolina’s first since Whit Merrifield’s grand slam at USC Upstate on April 21.

The fifth inning saw Carolina put four more runs on the scoreboard. Merrifield and Mack each did the damage with a pair of two-run doubles.

After Tennessee scored a single run in the bottom of the fifth, the seventh inning saw Carolina plate home three more runs on a pair of homers. The first came on a scary play as Merrifield launched a deep line drive that saw Tennessee center fielder Kentrail Davis crash into the wall attempting to catch the ball. On the play, Davis was unable to hold on and Merrifield sped around the bases for an inside the park home run. It was Merrifield’s 11th home run of the year and the second inside the park home run by a Gamecock this year. Adam Matthews hit an inside the park homer in a 9-1 win over Arkansas on April 4.

The Volunteers added Carolina’s three spot in the bottom of the eighth inning as Zach Osborne knocked a two-out three-run homer to left center off of Gamecock reliever Michael Roth. The homer was Osborne’s second of the series and fourth on the year. Tennessee would score two more runs in the ninth inning before Carolina closed out the victory and the series on Michael Roth’s strikeout of Tyler Horne in the bottom of the ninth.