ATHENS---Fourth-ranked South Carolina captured the Southeastern Conference title after completing a sweep of Georgia Sunday, winning 4-2 at Foley Field.
Sophomore Matt Woods blanked the Gamecocks (44-12, 21-8 SEC) until the seventh and then USC took the lead with three runs in the eighth to defeat the Bulldogs (30-25, 15-15). It was the first time since 1998 that Georgia had been swept at home with the Auburn Tigers the last team to leave town with three wins. The Bulldogs wasted a fine performance by Woods, who pitched a career-high 7.1 innings. Blake Taylor pitched the final 2.2 innings for the Gamecocks to pick up the victory and improve to 5-0.
Pinch-hitter Demetric Smith delivered a two-run double in the eighth off Georgia freshman Jason Fellows to put the Gamecocks ahead 4-2. The inning started with a rare error by third baseman Lee Mitchell, who ranks among the SEC defensive leaders, on a grounder by Steve Thomas. Brian Buscher followed with a base hit as Thomas took third. First baseman Yaron Peters bounced one to second as the Bulldogs got Buscher but Thomas scored on the play to tie the game at 2-2. Gary Bell bounced a single into right field that would end Woods outing. Georgia looked to the left-handed Fellows to face the left-handed Trey Dyson but the Gamecocks pinch-hit Smith.
Georgia took its first lead in the series in the third inning on a two-out, run-scoring single by Justin McClain. The junior first baseman extended his hittting streak to a career-best 12 games on the base hit which plated Justin Holmes who led off with a walk and advanced to third on a couple of groundouts. The Bulldogs wered aided by a pair of USC errors for their second run in the sixth innning. Mitchell reached on a throwing error by shortstop Drew Meyer. Pitcher Matt Campbell's errant pickoff attempt sailed into right field and Mitchell was able to score on the play.
In the seventh, USC got on the board. Woods hit Justin Harris with a pitch and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, pinch-hitter Garris Gonce lined a single to right to score Harris.
The Bulldogs enter the SEC Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., as the sixth seed and will face 11th-ranked Florida (40-15, 20-10 SEC), the third seed, at 11 am ET Wednesday.
The 2002 SEC Tournament is being played at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium from May 22-26. The other game in Georgia's half of the bracket features second-seed and Western Division champion Alabama versus seventh seed Mississippi State at 2 pm ET. Bracket two includes SEC champion South Carolina, fourth seed LSU, fifth seed Auburn and eighth seed Arkansas.