Powell's Grand Slam Leads USC Past Alabama, 6-3.

Landon Powell went yard in the second to lead the University of South Carolina Gamecocks over the Crimson Tide of Alabama Friday night at Sarge Frye Field. It was Powell's second career Grand Salami and sets ups a big second game in the series slated for TV on Saturday. This searies is important ...

The second career grand slam by Landon Powell keyed a six-run second as South Carolina improved to 8-8 in the SEC with a 6-3 victory over Alabama Friday night in the opener of an important SEC series at Sarge Frye Field. Michael Campbell went 4-for-4 for USC, which will seek to go over the .500 mark in conference play for the first time this season on Saturday. First pitch is 4:06 p.m. The game will televised by Fox Sports Net South.

Friday nights have not been kind to South Carolina since SEC play began more than a month ago.

This Friday was a different story.

Landon Powell smacked his second career grand slam and Michael Campbell went 4-for-4 as USC held off Alabama, 6-3, Friday night before 4,019 at Sarge Frye Field. The victory was USC's second in six Friday SEC games.

The Gamecocks improved to 28-10 overall, 8-8 in the SEC. Alabama, which came into the game tied with Kentucky for the worst record in the SEC, fell to 23-17, 5-11.

Aaron Rawl, an emergency starter after normal Friday starter Billy Buckner was diagnosed with mononucleosis a few hours before game time, pitched 6-1/3 innings and allowed seven hits and three runs to pick up the victory. He is 8-2 this season.

Closer Chad Blackwell came on with one out in the 7th and retired all eight batters he faced. He had five strikeouts and was credited with his tenth save of the season.

Campbell had four of USC's seven hits. The big blow was Powell's two-out grand slam in the 2nd inning that gave USC an insurmountable 6-0 lead. The Gamecocks didn't score again against Alabama starter Wade LeBlanc, who went the distance.

Thanks to a pair of errors in the pivotal 2nd, all six of USC's runs were unearned.

Rawl's only blemish in the first was hitting a batter on ball four with two outs. However, a strikeout of Alabama's cleanup hitter ended the inning.

Powell walked with two outs in the bottom of the 1st before Winn flied out to right for the third out.

The Crimson Tide had a runner in scoring position with one out in the top of the 2nd (single and 4-3 groundout) but Rawl wiggled out of the jam with a strikeout and groundout to first.

USC scored all of the runs it would need in a six-run 2nd. Michael Campbell led off the inning with a line drive opposite field single to left. Pearce, dropped to sixth in the batting order, scorched one right at the Alabama third baseman. The ball ricocheted off his leg and rebounded into foul territory near the Crimson Tide bullpen.

When the smoke cleared, USC had runners at second and third with no outs. Designated hitter Hank Parks lofted a sacrifice fly to medium left that scored Campbell easily with the game's first run.

Steven Tolleson and Kevin Melillo, both of whom returned to the starting lineup Wednesday, made their presence felt. Tolleson walked and Melillo laid down a sacrifice bunt that the Alabama pitcher mishandled.

The error loaded the bases with one out. Leadoff hitter Davy Gregg hit a fly to medium right that was caught by the Alabama rightfielder. The first baseman cut off the throw and whirled to throw home. The ball and Pearce arrived at home plate at the same time. The collision between Pearce and the Crimson Tide catcher could be felt all the way to the press box, as the ball squirted away. Despite an argument by the Alabama head coach, the run counted and USC led, 2-0.

Bryan Triplett walked to reload the bases. Powell worked the count to 3-2 before launching a towering shot far over the left field wall for his second career grand slam, and a 6-0 USC lead.

Rawl surrendered a harmless two-out single in the 3rd but managed to preserve the shutout.

Michael Campbell started the 3rd in identical fashion as the 2nd, with a line drive single to left. After a popup and flyout, he was picked off first

Alabama got on the board with a solo homer to right leading off the 4th. After a walk and visit by Jerry Meyers with two outs, Rawl got out of the inning without further damage on a bouncer to short.

Tolleson showed that, despite his injuries, he can still swing the bat, as he led off the bottom of the 4th with a line drive single to center. Melillo sacrificed him to second with a well-placed bunt. However a pair of flyouts ended the inning.

Rawl settled down in the 5th and retired the Crimson Tide in order. USC got a two-out double from Campbell, his third hit of the night, but nothing came of it as Pearce flied to center for the third out.

The most exciting defensive play of the night came in the top of the 6th. Alabama's leadoff hitter lined a shot to the right-center gap. Rather than settling for a double (the proper decision when your team is trailing by five runs in the middle innings), he rounded second and raced for third. The throw was high but in time to nail the runner for the first out of the inning.

A hits batsman and throwing error by Triplett, the USC shortstop, put runners on the corners with one out for Alabama. A double to the gap in right-center scored both runners to slice USC's lead to 6-3.

After another hit batsman, and with the tying run at the plate, Rawl was lifted in favor of Chad Blackwell. Blackwell's sweeping curve was devastating, as the first two Crimson Tide batters he faced struckout, and didn't come close to making solid contact.

USC had leadoff singles in both the 7th and 8th but couldn't score.

Blackwell's domination of the Alabama hitters continued through the 8th as he retired the Tide on a strikeout and two groundouts.

Blackwell received some defensive help from Pearce in the 9th, as he made a diving stab on liner for the first out. Blackwell took care of the rest, striking out the last two batters to polish off the Friday night victory.



NOTES: USC now leads the all-time series with Alabama, 17-16. . .USC swept a three-game series at Tuscaloosa in 2003 but Alabama won in the SEC Tournament. . .Bill Buckner is out indefinitely with mononucleosis. . .Powell's grand slam homer in the 2nd was the second grand slam of his career. Powell has 37 career homers, good for 8th place on the USC all-time list. . .The last grand slam homer by a USC player (Steven Pearce) came 2/14/04 v. Charleston Southern in a 38-0 victory. . .USC has homered in 31 of 38 games this season. . .Aaron Rawl's career record is now 21-7. . .He made his 11th start of the season Friday. . .Saturday's game will be televised by Fox Sports South. Fox announcers Dave Neal and Larry Conley watched Friday's game from the press box. . .Friday marked the fifth time this season Blackwell has pitched at least 2.2 IP. . .Michael Campbell had four hits for the second time this season. He had five hits, including three homers, against Wofford 3/23.

ALA-000 100 200 = 3-7-2

USC-060 000 00x = 6-7-1

WP-Aaron Rawl (8-2)

LP-Wade LeBlanc (5-4)

SAVE-Chad Blackwell (10)

HR-USC, Landon Powell (2nd, 3 on); Alabama, Gabe Scott (4th, none on).

TIME-2:19.

A-4,019

Next Game: Sat. 4/24 v. Alabama, 4:00 p.m. (SEC-TV)

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