Thump! Carolina pounds Dawgs 15-6

ATHENS – Georgia has played with its back to the wall most of the season, but it has never dug itself a hole quite like this. South Carolina buried the Bulldogs under eight home runs to take a 15-6 victory in Game 1 of this NCAA Super Regional. A Foley Field crowd of 3,672 saw the Gamecocks tie an NCAA record with five consecutive home runs in the top of the second inning.

"I don't think I've ever seen that," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said of the second inning. "I didn't even know we had hit five in a row until after the game. I mean, I knew we had a few."

It was the Gamecocks' first win in five chances against the Bulldogs this season, and South Carolina's first win all year against Georgia in football, men's basketball or baseball.

South Carolina (41-23) can advance to the College World Series with a win today at 4 p.m. Georgia, the NCAA's Tournament's No. 7 seed, must beat the No. 15 Gamecocks today and again Monday to earn a CWS berth.

South Carolina's eight home runs surpassed its total from the previous six games combined. It missed tying the NCAA postseason record for homers in a game by one.

Even Georgia coach David Perno laughed about the second inning.

"That was pretty wild," he said.

Perno was in good spirits after the thrashing and said he didn't have any concerns about his team being demoralized by the nature of the loss.

"Not with this team, not one bit," he said.

The Bulldogs (45-21) have had to battle all season, winning 14 of 15 to end the regular season and then winning three straight elimination games to escape last weekend's Athens Regional.

However, they've only given up 15 runs once before this season and only been beaten by a larger margin twice all year.

The game got ugly early as starting pitcher Mickey Westphal gave up four home runs in the first 12/3 innings.

"It's a little embarrassing, but you have to get over it," he said. "Life goes on. I left a couple balls up, and that killed me."

Westphal (7-2) retired the first two batters in the first inning, but then gave up back-to-back singles to Justin Smoak and Phil Disher and a three-run home run to Andrew Crisp.

Westphal again got the first two outs in the second. However, he walked Chris Brown before giving up back-to-back-to-back home runs to Neil Giesler, Smoak and Disher. The Bulldogs brought in Stephen Dodson to stop the bleeding, but he immediately gave up two more long balls, to Crisp and Robbie Grinestaff. The five straight home runs tied the record set by Eastern Illinois in 1998. Grinestaff hit the record-tying blast.

"When I saw four of them go, I was like, ‘Boy, these guys are going to get on me if I don't get one,'" he said.

James Darnell joined the fun for South Carolina in the fifth inning with just his third home run of the season, a three-run blast to right field that put the Gamecocks ahead 12-1.

Every Gamecock in the starting lineup had a hit, and only three failed to homer. Crisp and Grinestaff each had two home runs and four RBI.

"They had an extra big session of batting practice," Perno said.

Georgia's struggles didn't stop on the mound. It had the bases loaded with one out in both the second and third innings but scored just one run.

"When both those innings got away from us, I knew it was going to be tough," Perno said.

Tanner called those innings the "deciding point" of the game.

South Carolina starter Harris Honeycutt pitched 81/3 innings, throwing 128 pitches and getting his seventh win of the season.


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