Gamecocks win at least a share of title

It took every last bit of the SEC conference season to do it, but for the first time since 2002 the Gamecocks earn at least a share of the regular season SEC Championship as they outlasted Alabama in a grueling 3-2 victory in Tuscaloosa. Colby Holmes was fantastic in earning the win and Matt Price got the final four outs to earn the save as USC finishes the season with a 22-8 SEC record.

SEC CHAMPS!!! Second ranked South Carolina (44-12, 22-8 SEC) broke out of the gates with an early two-run lead and behind solid work from starter Colby Holmes and three relievers the Gamecocks defeated Alabama (32-24, 14-16) 3-2 on Saturday afternoon to claim at least a share of the SEC Championship.

"Just a resilient group of guys. I'm a little emotional right now," head coach Ray Tanner said in the postgame radio show on 107.5 The Game. "These guys have been resilient -- just battled. We've had lots of reasons not to be where we are today, but these guys refused to lose. They didn't want to be denied.

"I just can't say enough about these guys to be able to finish first in a league like we have facing all kinds of adversity. I'm so proud of these guys I'm speechless."

It is the school's third SEC Championship in baseball and the first since the 2002 regular season. Carolina also claims at least a share of the SEC Eastern Division title, the school's fifth (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2011). South Carolina heads to Hoover, Ala. as the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament that begins next Wednesday at Regions Park.

South Carolina broke ahead by two runs in the first two innings. The Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Peter Mooney singled up the middle and Scott Wingo singled to right field to get things started and put runners on the corners with no outs. Mooney would then score on Christian Walker's RBI sacrifice fly to right field.

That lead would increase to 2-0 in the second inning as Steven Neff delivered with a solo home run to right field, his fourth home run of the season, and fourth homer in last 15 at-bats.

Zeroes would then be the story for much of the middle of the game as Holmes and Alabama starter Jonathan Smart went back and forth without yielding any more runs.

"We knew we had our hands full with Jonathan Smart," Tanner said.

The Crimson Tide eventually got to Holmes in the seventh inning and with the bases loaded and two outs, Brock Bennett drew a walk against Gamecock reliever John Taylor to cut Carolina's lead to 2-1.

The Gamecocks answered as Adrian Morales came up with a big RBI for Carolina in the eighth inning to take a 3-1 lead.

Walker led off with a double that frame and scored on a single to left field off the bat of Morales. Alabama, however, answered the Gamecocks and scored a single run in the eighth inning to cut the Gamecock lead to 3-2.

Austen Smith led off with a walk and Brett Booth doubled to give Alabama runners on second and third with one out. Tyler Webb would get Andrew Miller to ground out to Mooney at short as Smith scored the second run of the game for Alabama.

Enter Matt Price, who after hitting pinch hitter Brandt Hendricks, struck out pinch hitter Jon Kelton to keep Carolina ahead by a run.

"I felt fine," Price said. "I might be a little sore later, but I felt fine when I was getting ready in the pen."

That was all that Price needed as he came up big in the ninth going three up and three down against the Crimson Tide to clinch the championship for Carolina. Price coaxed Taylor Dugas into a fly out to center field, tallied the second out on a ground ball to shortstop off the bat of Brock Bennett and sealed the win with a strikeout looking against Jared Reaves.

"Matty P, he told me before the game, he said, 'I got about four outs in me,' and we used every one of them," Tanner said.

South Carolina had 12 hits while Alabama just had five on the afternoon. Evan Marzilli was 4-for-4, a career-high in hits for him. Wingo went 3-for-5 and Peter Mooney added two hits as well. Booth went 2-for-4 with a run scored to lead Alabama at the plate.

Holmes earned the win and is now 6-2 on the year. He allowed one run on four hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Price picked up his 15th save with 1.1 hitless innings and a pair of strikeouts.

"Colby gave us just a brilliant start," Tanner said.

"I knew last night it was going to be a big game," Holmes said. "I'm happy to be where we are right now."

Alabama starter Jonathan Smart took the loss and is 4-2 for the season. He allowed three runs on 12 hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

"I knew we weren't going to get many runs -- we had to be special today," Tanner said.

More information on next week's SEC Tournament will be posted as soon as the bracket is announced. By virtue of the amount of wins over Florida and Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks have earned the No. 1 seed and will face the No. 8 seed in the third game of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday in Hoover, Ala. with first pitched scheduled for 5:30.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories