June 4, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina exploded for 10 runs in the third and fourth innings and advanced to the NCAA Columbia Regional championship game with an 11-5 win over Stetson on Saturday night at Carolina Stadium.
The Gamecocks improve to 47-14 on the season and will face the winner of tomorrow’s NC State-Stetson game for the regional title. Stetson fell to 42-19 and will face the Wolfpack in an elimination game at 1 p.m. South Carolina has now won 16 consecutive postseason games at home, dating back to the 2002 Super Regional vs. Miami (Fla.). Carolina is 5-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament at Carolina Stadium.
Colby Holmes (7-3) got the win with 6.2 strong innings of work, giving up four runs on seven hits while walking just one and striking out three. It was the sixth time this season Holmes went six innings or longer; in all six such outings, he earned a victory.
Four Gamecocks registered multi-hit outings with Robert Beary leading the way. He went 2-for-3 with a grand slam – Carolina’s second of the season – to tie a career high with four RBIs. Evan Marzilli, Scott Wingo and Christian Walker all had two hits in the game – Wingo was also hit by a pitch twice to increase his school-record career total to 59 – and Jake Williams and Peter Mooney both drove in a pair of runs.
For Stetson, it was Mitchel Brennan taking top honors with a 2-for-4 day that included a three-run home run, his second of the Columbia Regional. Jeff Simpson, Robert Crews and Sean Emory all had two hits as well.
The Hatters got on the board first when, with two outs in the second, first baseman Trey Blackman hit his first home run of the season to give Stetson a 1-0 lead.
The Gamecocks then exploded in the third and fourth innings. After Marzilli led off with a double and Wingo moved him to third with a base hit, Walker was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. Marzilli would score to tie the game at 1-1 when Brady Thomas hit into a double play, putting a runner at third with two outs. However, three consecutive walks to Morales, Williams and Mooney brought home Wingo to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead. Beary then came through with his first career grand slam to blow the game wide open, giving the Gamecocks a 6-1 lead and delighting the Carolina Stadium crowd of 7,335.
An inning later, it was more of the same as Marzilli and Wingo led off with back-to-back singles, then Walker singled up the middle to bring home Marzilli and make it 7-1. After a walk to Thomas and a fielder’s choice by Morales erased Wingo at home, Williams ripped a 2-RBI double to left center to bring home Walker and Thomas and increase the lead to 9-1. A sacrifice fly by Mooney one batter later brought home Morales, moving the Gamecocks into double digits at 10-1.
Steven Neff then delivered his fifth home run of the season on the first pitch of the fifth inning, roping yet another one into the right-field bullpen, to increase Carolina’s lead to 11-1.
Stetson would not go quietly, however. With two outs in the seventh, Mitchel Brennan roped his second home run of the Columbia Regional to bring home three Hatter runs and cut the Carolina lead to 11-4.
The Hatters would threaten again in the eighth and come away empty, but they managed to scratch out one more run in the ninth. Blackman was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, moved to second on a walk to Emory, and then scored as Brennan singled to cut the Stetson deficit to 11-5. However, John Taylor would force a groundout and strike out the final two batters he faced to end the ballgame and send the Gamecocks to the regional championship game for the 11th straight year.
First pitch for Sunday’s championship is set for 7 p.m. as the Gamecocks will face the winner of an elimination game between NC State and Stetson. The home team for the 7 p.m. game has not yet been determined. Complete coverage of the 2011 NCAA Columbia Regional, including live stats and live video from every game, is available only through GamecocksOnline.com.