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March 21, 2016

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Junior first baseman Kaylea Snaer came up huge for South Carolina (23-6, 2-4 SEC) on Monday night, winning the 3-1 game in eight innings against No. 12/12 Georgia with a two-run walk-off home run at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.

In the eighth, Snaer stepped up with two down and a runner on first against Georgia starter Chelsea Wilkinson, going down 0-2 before driving one over the wall in left field for her second home run of the year. South Carolina won both games in the series against the Bulldogs on final at-bat home runs, first on Sunday by senior Ansley Ard, the SEC Player of the Week.

Snaer gave the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead in the first, knocking a two-out double that came a foot away from clearing the wall. That scored freshman Alexis Mack after her one-out single and steal of second.

Georgia tied the game in the second after a third play at the plate in the inning. With one on, an errant throw on a sacrifice bunt brought the runner at first all the way around, but freshman right fielder Kennedy Clark fired a strike to senior catcher Jordan Bizzell, who stood her ground and tagged out the runner who barreled into her. After a walk, a grounder to freshman shortstop Kenzi Maguire looked to be deep enough to score the runner for third, but Maguire’s throw and Bizzell’s tag and block of the plate nabbed her. On the third try, Lacey Sumerlin singled to shallow left, and Alyssa DiCarlo avoided Bizzell and swiped the plate to tie the game at 1-1.

Pitching dominated from there, with neither team really threatening. Gamecock reliever Nickie Blue (10-5) picked up the win with five innings of hitless relief, giving up one walk and striking out one. Starter Jessica Elliott gave up only the unearned run in her three innings of work. Wilkinson (13-2) went the distance for the Bulldogs, allowing three earned runs in 7.2 innings on six hits. She fanned four.

Game Changer:
Blue came in and allowed no hits and only one base runner in her five innings of action, stymying the Bulldog offense that entered the weekend second in the country in batting average.

Key Stat:
Snaer went 2-for-4 with the double, the home run and all three RBI for the Gamecocks.

• Mack scored twice in a 1-for-3 night, also stealing a base and posting a sacrifice hit.
• Sophomore third baseman Kamryn Watts went 2-for-3 with a stolen base as well.
• Bizzell not only made those two tags at the plate but also threw out Georgia’s Sydni Emanuel, the first time she had been caught stealing this season in 11 tries.
• Senior left fielder Alaynie Page had the other hit, leading off the eighth with her single.
• Emanuel, Sumerlin and Samantha LaZear had Georgia’s hits, while Sumerlin, DiCarlo and Alex Hugo drew the walks.
• It’s South Carolina’s first series win over the Bulldogs since a 2007 sweep at home.

Tweet of the Game:

Head coach Beverly Smith

What you saw, over the weekend, was our team continuing to grow and get better. I loved the fight that we showed. To have the two clutch hits, Ard last night and Snaer tonight, was huge for us.

On her pitchers holding Georgia’s offense to three hits
It gets hard on game three to look different, and I think (Jessica) and Nickie did a super job keeping Georgia’s hitter off balance. They both had command of their pitches, and the defense did a great job of getting them off the field.

On Bizzell’s performance this season
Jordan Bizzell is not getting enough credit for the job she’s doing behind the plate. She handles both pitchers very well, and the plays at the plate, she gets the outs for us.

Every win in the SEC is critical. I thought we played well in game one but didn’t get the hits. I feel like our hitters made the adjustments we needed them to make, and it came in game two and in game three.

Junior first baseman Kaylea Snaer
We had two outs, and we’ve been working hard on putting the ball hard in play. We’ve been fighting through that game so hard, and I wanted to win it so bad. I was trusting my preparation and waiting for her to throw me a good pitch.

Up Next:
The Gamecocks close the 15-game home stand with a single game on Wednesday against Charleston Southern. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.