USC Rallys To Crush Ole Miss' Hopes In 10 Innings

Hoover, Ala. - Steven Tolleson's three-run home run in the ninth inning capped off a four-run rally for South Carolina and Steve Pearce hit a RBI double in the 10th inning as seventh ranked South Carolina upended 12th ranked Ole Miss 7-6 in the first round of the SEC Tournament ...

South Carolina is now 42-15 and advances to the next round to face the winner of the Tennessee-Arkansas game on Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. Ole Miss is now 39-18 on the year.

Trailing 6-2 in the ninth inning, the Gamecocks scored four runs off Ole Miss relief pitcher Stephen Head, SEC Co-Player of the Year, to extend the game to extra innings. Kevin Melillo opened up the ninth inning with a single and advanced to second base on a one-out walk to Michael Campbell. With two outs, pinch hitter Hank Parks knocked a 2-2 pitch from Head for a RBI single to center field scoring Melillo to cut the deficit to three runs and keep the Gamecock rally alive. With a 0-1 count, Tolleson drove the pitch from Head down the left field line hitting the foul pole for a game-tying homer, his third of the season.

Carolina gained the lead in the 10th inning with a RBI double from Steve Pearce. One-out singles from Brendan Winn and Melillo set the stage for Pearce, who drilled a double to left field to score Winn and give the Gamecocks a one-run cushion. Gamecock reliever Chad Blackwell retired the Rebels in order in bottom half of the 10th to seal the come-from-behind win. Blackwell worked two scoreless innings allowing just one hit and striking out three batters to earn the win. Blackwell is now 4-3 on the year. Head took the loss after two innings of relief and is now 6-2 on the year. He allowed five runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

The game was a pitcher's duel early as South Carolina starting pitcher Matt Campbell and Ole Miss starter Mark Holliman went into the fifth inning without allowing a hit. Campbell retired 14 batters in a row before a two-out single by Babineaux in the bottom of the fifth. South Carolina went ahead early on Ole Miss 1-0 with a run in the fourth inning without a base hit off Holliman. Bryan Triplett walked, stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch from Holliman. Triplett would score on a one-out sacrifice fly RBI to left from Kevin Melillo.

The game remained 1-0 until the seventh inning when Steve Pearce drilled the first pitch from Holliman over the left field wall for his 16th HR of the year and a two-run Gamecock lead. South Carolina now owns 94 home runs as a team on the year. Ole Miss starting pitcher Mark Holliman worked seven 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts and five walks allowed.

With the Gamecocks up two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Ole Miss struck back with six runs, five unearned to take a four-run lead. Chris Coghlan tripled to lead of the inning and scored on a fielding error by Triplett at third base that put Charlie Babineaux on first base. A bunt by Matt Tolbert was misplayed by Campbell in the grass for an error and gave the Rebels runners on first and second with no outs. Arik Hempy relieved Campbell, who went seven innings allowing three runs, one earned on three hits with nine strikeouts and no walks allowed. With two outs and Tolbert and pinch runner Miles Franklin on second and third respectively, Ole Miss leadoff hitter Cooper Osteen hit a RBI single to left scoring Franklin and giving the Rebels a one run lead. After Seth Smith was hit by a pitch, the lead extended to four runs as Head's three-run HR off Hempy gave the Rebels a four-run cushion.

South Carolina outhit the Rebels 10-6 with Tolleson, Powell, Melillo and Pearce collecting two apiece to lead the Gamecock attack.

SOUTH CAROLINA NOTEBOOK

- Landon Powell set a school record for games played in a career in Wednesday's game with Ole Miss at the SEC Tournament. The game was his 237th game that the senior catcher has appeared in as a Gamecock. That passes the mark set, 1991-94, by USC Hall of Fame outfielder Mac White.

- The home run by Steven Tolleson was his third of the season and his first since his game-winning homer against Clemson on March 7th.

- Chad Blackwell picked up his fourth win on the season with his last coming against The Citadel in Charleston on May 12th.

- South Carolina is now 6-1 this season in extra inning games played. All seven extra inning games have ended in the 10th inning.

POSTGAME QUOTES

Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco

On the game...
"We had a wild game tonight. It was a great pitching duel that they gutted out a no hitter for about four innings or so. At the end it became a slugfest. This loss is a tough one to swallow and you have to give South Carolina credit. They had quite a comeback."

On the pitching...
"I think the more of it came from (Matt) Campbell. We actually managed to score runs off the best relievers in the league. Campbell had some great stuff tonight and he really was dominate. I think that Mark (Holliman) matched him very well. He is one we can count on and he couldn't do much better then he did tonight."

Stephen Head, First Base/Pitcher

On his homerun...
"That was pretty emotional for us. I think it put us ahead and I would never dream in my wildest dreams that the game would have happened like that. You have to give credit to South Carolina because they had some big hits."

On losing the first game...
"If you remember correctly, the same thing happened last year. We lost a heartbreaker to Mississippi State in the first round and then came back to beat Arkansas in extra innings. This is a situation that we have been in before and now we just have to battle through it again."

South Caroling Head Coach, Ray Tanner

On the game...
"It's hard to put into words. It was a great pitching duo. The hitting was real good, but it was all about the two guys on the mound. It was a tremendous comeback for the team and a great win."

"We haven't dome well late in our games. We have not had any big innings and we have not been swinging the bat real well. The ninth inning was a great inning and our guys just kept hanging in there."

Steven Tolleson, Shortstop

On the homerun....
"It was an inside fastball. I was praying it would stay fair and lucky it did. It was a good pick-up from the previous inning."

POSTGAME NOTES

With the tenth inning 7-6 victory, South Carolina its first come from behind win after the ninth inning to improve their record to 1-13 on the season.
In the win, USC is now 6-1 in extra inning baseball games this season.
With the defeat, Mississippi has dropped their game when leading after the eighth inning, moving their record to 33-1.
Steven Tolleson's homerun in the ninth inning was his third of the season and his first since an 8-7 win over Clemson on March 7th at Clemson.

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