May 30, 2009

GREENVILLE, N.C. - Greenville Regional top seed East Carolina loaded the bases in the third, fourth and fifth innings but could produce no runs as No. 2 seed South Carolina pounded out 12 runs on 17 hits to take a 12-2 decision in front of 4,595 at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The crowd represents the eighth-largest in stadium and program history.

Catcher Justin Dalles enjoyed a career outing for the Gamecocks, going 4-for-5 with seven RBI while Blake Cooper picked up the win on the mound, hurling eight innings while striking out four and improving his record to 9-4. South Carolina also received two home runs each from Dalles and Adam Matthews.

Three Pirates notched two hits in the contest while Corey Thompson provided East Carolina's two RBI. Starting pitcher Seth Maness fell to 9-2 on the year, allowing six earned runs on 11 hits while striking out three.

The Gamecocks (40-21) broke ahead in the top of the first when Whit Merrifield poked a leadoff single through the right side and then stole second. He would advance to third and score on a pair of groundouts, making the score 1-0 heading into the Pirates' first at bat. ECU (43-18) attempted to answer, as Stephen Batts and Kyle Roller reached with two outs on an error and a single, respectively. However, Brandon Henderson fouled out to third to end the inning.

After a double play produced two outs in the top of the second, Matthews drilled the first pitch he saw over the left field fence to stretch the Gamecock advantage to 2-0. The Pirates received a pair of two-out singles in the bottom of the frame, but Trent Whitehead grounded out to end the East Carolina threat.

The Pirates mounted another attack in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with one out, but Dustin Harrington grounded into a double play to terminate the inning. Then, for the second-straight at bat, ECU loaded the bases but Batts flew out to deep right field, leaving three more runners stranded.

South Carolina added to its lead in the sixth when with one out and Jackie Bradley Jr. on first, Dalles homered to left field to make the score 4-0. Then, with two away, Matthews doubled down the left field line and scored when Bobby Haney singled to right field.

The Gamecocks tacked on another run in the top of the seventh, as DeAngelo Mack scored on an infield single to short by Dalles. Mack had doubled to left center earlier in the frame. Then, South Carolina would plate six more runs in the final two innings while pinch hitter Corey Thompson broke up the shutout with a two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the eighth, making the score 12-2.

The Pirates will face No. 4 seed Binghamton in an elimination game tomorrow at 2 p.m. while the Gamecocks advance to the regional championship game, scheduled for 6 p.m.