April 30, 2010
|Brady Thomas Game-Winning HR|
|Whit Merrifield and Brady Thomas|
|Jackie Bradley, Jr.|
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Brady Thomas connected with a two-out two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning lifting South Carolina to a 9-7 victory over Alabama on Friday night at Carolina Stadium. The win improves Carolina to 33-8 and 15-4 in the SEC while the loss drops the Crimson Tide to 27-16 and 8-11 in conference play. Game two of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised on CSS and ESPN3.com. It can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network.
Thomas, who entered the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, was in a full count against Alabama reliever Nathan Kilcrease and drilled a pitch over the right center field wall for his fifth home run of the season breaking open the celebration at home plate for the Gamecocks.
Gamecock reliever Jose Mata earned the win in relief after coming in to record the final out of the 11th inning with a potential go ahead run on third base. Mata struck out Alabama cleanup hitter Clay Jones to set up the 11th inning dramatics. Mata is now 4-0 on the year. Kilcrease worked 2.2 innings and allowed two runs on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in the loss. He is now 3-2 for the year.
It was an offensive game at Carolina Stadium with Alabama tallying 16 hits and the Gamecocks finishing with 14 on the night. Jackie Bradley Jr. was 3-for-5 with a triple, homer and four RBI to lead Carolina and Scott Wingo also was 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI. Bobby Haney and Adrian Morales had two hits apiece as well. Alabama had three players record three-hit games; Taylor Dugas, Clay Jones and Josh Rutledge. David Kindred was also 2-for-5.
Alabama broke ahead on Carolina starter Blake Cooper with two runs in the top of the first inning. Taylor Dugas led off the game with a single and advanced to third on a double down the left field line by Josh Rutledge. They would each score on RBI ground outs from Ross Wilson and Clay Jones.
The Gamecocks would break ahead 4-2 in the bottom of the second inning. Scott Wingo drove in a run with a single. Bradley had the big hit in the frame as with two outs and the bases loaded, he drilled a three-run triple to the gap in right center that scored Haney, Wingo and Whit Merrifield to push the Gamecocks ahead by two runs.
Alabama answered with a run in the top of the third as Clay Jones doubled with two outs to score Dugas. Carolina came back with two in the bottom of the fourth as Bradley and Jeffery Jones went back-to-back with solo homers to increase the Carolina lead to 6-3. Alabama again answered with a single run in the top of the fifth as Ross Wilson delivered with a RBI single to score Dugas and cutting the Gamecocks lead to two runs. South Carolina regained the three-run cushion in the bottom of the seventh as Wingo drilled a solo homer, his team-leading ninth of the year.
Carolina starter Blake Cooper went 6.1 innings in the no-decision and allowed four runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Alabama starter Jimmy Nelson lasted four innings and allowed six runs, two earned, on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
“Lots of things were going through my mind,” said head coach Ray Tanner. “Alabama has a good team, we know that. Neither one of the starters were really sharp but they both battled. Nelson and Cooper battled their rear ends off and didn’t have great nights. We got in the position and they hit a big homerun. . . We kept battling and we were re able to win it.”
The Gamecocks held a 7-4 lead in the top of the ninth inning but that is when Alabama rallied. Andrew Miller drew a one-out walk against reliever Ethan Carter and pinch hitter Brett Booth singled to give the Tide a pair of runners. Gamecock reliever Michael Roth was then summoned and he got Taylor Dugas to ground out with the runners advancing to get the second out of the inning. With reliever Matt Price in the game, Alabama tied it up as Josh Rutledge knocked a 1-2 pitch from Price just over the wall in right field to tie the game.
Price would get out of the inning in the ninth as Bradley threw out Ross Wilson attempting to reach third base on a base hit by Clay Jones. That was Bradley’s second assist in the outfield for the night. Reliever Steven Neff would hurl 1.2 scoreless innings for the Gamecocks in the 10th and 11th to keep the Tide off the scoreboard.