CAROLINA - YOUR 2004 SEC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!

The Gamecocks had been there before in recent memory, but this time they wanted it to end differently - and it did. Here is the inning by inning call on the game five minutes after its ending - The University of South Carolina Gamecocks, your 2004 SEC Tournament Champions and the first of the Eastern Division Teams to win the title for obvious reasons ...

Carolina Vs Vandy - SEC Tourney Championship

Overall Series - 21 game winning streak by the Gamecocks broken in April (by Jeremy Sauers) of this year. Overall, Carolina leads the series 35-7 heading into this Championship game. (36-7 afterwards)
No two teams from the Eastern Division had met in the Tournament Championship since expansion in 1992, although South Carolina had played for the Tourney Title in 2002 against Bama. This does not necessarily signal dominance by the Western Division. In-state teams Alabama (5) and Auburn (1) took their share, and western local teams LSU and Mississippi State took the other two. After all, all of the title games have been played in either Birmingham or Hoover, Alabama.

1st Inning

Jeff Sues pitching for Vandy. Steven Tolleson goes down swinging to start the game. Brian Triplett works his way into a full count before grounding out to third. Landon Powell drew a walk on balls after hitting a line shot out of the park foul - contact that seemed to shake Sues up somewhat. Brendan Winn singled up the middle over second base and Landon Powell went to third on the hit and run. Winn and Powell at the corners with Kevin Melillo at the plate and two outs. The left-handed hitting Melillo promptly ripped one to left field scoring Powell and sending Winn to third. Runners at the corners once again with Steve Pearce at the plate and he makes good contact to the second baseman but is thrown out at first. Gamecocks draw first blood up 1-nothing.

In somewhat of a surprise, Zac McCamie comes to the mound for the Gamecocks. Ryan Klosterman does the honors for the Vandy lineup and promptly rockets one down the third base line for a stand up double to start the inning for the Dores. Antoine Richardson singled in the right infield gap and all of the sudden Vanderbilt had runners at the corners with no outs and the League's leading hitter Warner Jones coming to the plate. SC's defense would have to help McCamie out of the jam ... in the meantime Jones singles into the left infield gap driving in his 70th RBI of the season to tie the game. Vandy with runners at first and second and still no outs. That's when Kevin Melillo and McCamie pulled a fast one on second base runner Antoine Richardson catching him off base and nailing him in the rundown. Cesar Nicholas and Mike Baxter singled, the fourth and fifth in a row for Vandy, and suddenly the bases were loaded with one out. Aaron Garza popped up to shallow right for a Kevin Melillo put out. Two outs, bases loaded. Tony Mansolino at the plate for Vandy. He hits a grounder to Melillo, Kevin's third putout of the inning, and the Gamecocks move to the second with little damage having been done, the game now tied at 1 each.

2nd Inning

Michael Campbell draws a walk to open the second inning. Ryan Mahoney, the DH on the day, pops out to 2B Jones in shallow right. Campbell steals second. Davy Gregg at the plate and he goes down on strikes in only three pitches. Tolleson back at the top of the order with Campbell in scoring position, two outs. Steven pops out to 2B Jones, his second put out of the inning and the third SC out. The Gamecocks do no damage and the score is tied 1-1 with Vandy coming to the plate for the bottom of the 2nd.

McCamie opens the inning with a one pitch deep fly-out by Vandy's Worth Scott caught by Campbell in left. Two pitches later Jonathan Douillard grounds out to Tolleson behind second. Klosterman lines out to Tolleson on McCamie's eight pitch of the inning and the score remains all knotted-up, South Carolina 1, Vanderbilt 1.

3rd Inning

Sues still on the mound for Vandy. Bryan Triplett at the plate and he goes down on strikes. Landon Powell to the plate, he flies out to deep left field. Sues strikes out Brendan Winn on his eighth pitch of the inning, his third strikeout of the game - still tied at 1-1.

Bottom of the third and McCamie serves it up to Antoine Richardson who goes down swinging in five pitches - the first strikeout of the game for Zac. Warner at the plate for Vandy and he fouls out to Steve Pearce in from of the Dores' bullpen, out number two. Cesar Nicolas and Vandy fans were reminded that close and almost only count in horse shoes and hand grenades when he drove one to deep dead center for nothing more than a long out to Davy Gregg around the track at the 400 ft mark.

4th Inning

Kevin Melillo faces off against Sues to begin the fourth but fails to fare well and goes down swinging. Steve Pearce grounds out to Klosterman at SS two outs. Campbell grounds out to 1st and score remains 1-1. Both pitchers seemed to be in a groove at this point in the game. Sues had obviously settled down. South Carolina would have to see if McCamie would remain solid as well going into the bottom half of the inning.

McCamie gets Mike Baxter to pop out to Melillo at second. Aaron Garza pops out to Gregg in shallow center. Tony Mansolino lines out to Campbell in left as McCamie notches three outs in four pitches. Game still tied at 1-1.

5th Inning

Ryan Mahoney leads off the 5th with a base hit to right. Davy Gregg follows with a base hit bunt that puts Gamecocks on 1st and 2nd with no outs and the top of the order for the Cocks coming to the plate. Steven Tolleson outs himself on a bunt that popped up off the ground and hit he bill of his helmet. 1 out. Tough break for Tolleson. Bryan Triplett pops up a bunt behind the plate to the Vandy catcher Jonathan Douillard who makes a nice catch for the out. Landon Powell comes to the plate to attempt to save the inning for the Gamecocks. Runners still on first and second. Powell works the count full with an excellent at bat (13 pitches) that allows the runners to go on the pitch and ...... Powell draws the walk, Sues' third. Bases loaded with two outs. Brendan Winn to the plate with Sues having thrown 80 pitches so far in the game. Winn flies out deep to the corner in right, SC leaves three stranded on two failed bunt attempts. The game remains tied, 1-1.

McCamie starts out against Worth Scott in the bottom of the fifth and Scott delivers a base hit through the right infield to begin the inning. Scott Worth steals second and goes to third on a bad throw by Landon Powell that ended up dribbling into center field. Douillard drops one over Tolleson's head that scores Scott, Vandy takes the lead 2-1. Klosterman at the plate and he goes down on strikes to McCamie for the first out of the inning. Richardson dribbles one down the first base line and beats out the play, runners at first and second for Vandy with the SEC's leading hitter Warner Jones at the plate ... he flies out to Gregg in center - two outs. DH Cesar Nicholis flies out to Winn in right center - inning over.

6th Inning

Kevin Melillo at the plate, Sues still on the mound for Vandy. Melillo pop bunts over the pitcher's head for a base hit. Ray Tanner was not happy, he wanted a good bunt to begin the inning after the last bad bunts in the 5th. He was forcing the issue with his hitters, they were going to put down a good bunt or else that was obvious. Steve Pearce at bat and he fakes a bunt on the first pitch before lining one foul and then stroking a base hit to right. Melillo hustles to third on the play and now with no outs the Gamecock have runners at the corner. Melillo surprised everyone rounding second and going to third. Campbell to the plate and he rips one to the gap in right center to tie the game at 2-2, Campbell's 47th RBI of the season. Still no outs, runners at the corners for the Gamecocks, and Vandy decides it is time to make a pitching change - Freshman LHP Stephen Shao. (This was only the second time in the tournament that Vandy had to go to their bullpen. The first time this early in a game.) (RH) Hank Parks pinch hits for (LH) Ryan Mahoney. Parks goes down on strikes, one out. Davy Gregg, the number nine hitter, to the plate with runners still at the corners. Gregg serves up his second hit of the day, a liner into shallow center, and the Gamecocks take the lead 3-2! Tolleson back to the plate and goes down on strikes to Shao. The top of the SC order to this point had gone 0-8 on the day. Triplett to the plate, he was 0-3 at the plate on the day, 1-12 on the tourney, and Campbell in scoring position at second. Triplett grounds out to third and the Cocks' half of the inning was done.

McCamie forces Baxter to ground out. Garza base hits through the SS/3B gap. Steve Pearce makes another beautiful out in foul territory to put out Mansolino for the second out of the inning. Then McCamie is charged up by Pearce's out and he strikes out Scott to end the inning with the Gamecocks leading 3-2 and coming to the plate.

7th Inning

Landon Powell starts off at the plate against Shao, and Powell rips one up the middle for a base hit. Brendan Winn bunts, Shao looks like he is going to first but then decides to go to second to try to get the slow running Powell. Both runners are safe for the Cocks with Melillo coming to the plate - no outs. 'Do not hit into a double-play,' Tanner appears to say as he visits Kevin at the plate. Again, Melillo looks to bunt but it is a dribble in front of the plate and Powell is thrown out at third. One out, runners still at first and second and Tanner looks livid in the dugout at his teams' failure to bunt properly in this game. At this point the game has gone slightly over two hours. Steve Pearce at the plate, one out, runners at first and second and Pearce works the count full on 10 pitches before going down to a hard slider by Shao. It was a good pitch. Michael Campbell to the plate with two on, two outs. Shao got ahead in the count on Campbell quickly going 0-2 with the first two tosses. On the fourth pitch Campbell sliced one to left center for an out, the Carolina lead remained 3-2.

McCamie back to the mound for the Gamecocks in the bottom of the seventh and he gets Douillard to hit a slow roller back to the mound for out number one. Klosterman to the plate and he flies out to right. Richardson goes down looking at strike number three as McCamie sits them down one-two-three to end the inning, Gamecocks still leading 3-2.

Strategy Note: At this point in the game it appeared that McCamie was somehow getting stronger. Tanner left Blackwell in the dugout, no one warming up, meaning he felt comfortable with McCamie. In the mean time Vandy sent RHP Jensen Lewis to the mound to replace Shao who seemed to be pitching very well for the Dores when relieved. Lewis had been the only other reliever to see action for Vandy in any previous games up until this point.

8th Inning

Hank Parks leads-off the inning for the Gamecocks by grounding out to Lewis. Gregg flies a long out to Richardson in center. Tolleson goes down on strikes ... Carolina fails to get an insurance run in the eighth by going down one-two-three to Lewis.

McCamie had four strikeouts and no walks as he came to the mound in the bottom of the eighth. and he gets Warner Jones to fly out to center. But this time Tanner has gotten Blackwell up in the bullpen and Jerry Meyers decides to go with the Ace Closer. One out, Carolina with a 3-2 lead. Chad on the mound, Cesar Nicholis at the plate for the Dores. Get ready for another exciting ending. Nicholis dribbles a single through the left side of the infield and that brings up Mike Baxter with one on and one out. Baxter pokes one past a diving Tolleson and Vandy had the go-ahead runner on first. Jerry Meyers makes a rare trip to the mound to talk to his Ace Blackwell. Tanner orders pitchers up and working in the bullpen just in case. Aaron Garza at the plate with one down and two on for Vandy. Garza grounds to SS and the Gamecocks cannot turn the double for whatever reason. Two down, runners at the corners for the Dores, and Mansolino at the plate. Blackwell jumps on him in the count 0-2 ... then 1-2 ... then got him swinging! Vandy whoofs it and the Gamecocks continue to lead 3-2 going into their half of the ninth.

9th Inning

Triplett leads it off for the Gamecocks against Lewis in the ninth and he goes down swinging. South Carolina really needs an insurance run or two here. Landon Powell is up next and back hitting from the left side of the plate, and he draws his third walk of the day. Winn up next and the Gamecocks are in need of an insurance run or two. Winn goes down swinging, his 64th strikeout of the season. Two outs, Powell on first, Melillo to the plate. Kevin grounds out to second and the top of the ninth is over for the Gamecocks, still leading 3-2.

Worth Scott takes the plate for the Dores to lead off the ninth against Chad Blackwell with Vandy trailing by a run. Blackwell strikes out Scott looking, one out, two to go for a Championship. Douillard grounds to second and Melillo squibs the out allowing Douillard to get on base. He is replaced by a pinch-runner and Klosterman comes to the plate and hits into a 3-6-3 double-play!

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks are your 2004 SEC Tournament Baseball Champions!

We will have more for you on Gamecock Nation as the stats and quotes roll in.

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Vanderbilt on a great regular season and thanks for the great game today! Gamecock fans will be cheering for you in the Regionals and Super Regionals. We hope to see you in Omaha. You have an outstanding baseball team.

South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner after the game ...

On The Double Play To End The Game: It was a tremendous double-play, I didn't expect to get one that way but we'll take it.

On Winning His First Tournament Crown: It's really encouraging the way Zac McCamie pitched. Vandy has a great club, they're red hot right now. I picked them in their regional, that's for sure. We're very fortunate to win today and I am very happy about it.

On Chad Blackwell In Relief: We'll he's been out there a lot this year and he came up with another big save for us today. We're real happy with the way he pitched and we're real happy to get our championship.

Positives To Take Out Of This Tournament: We swung the bats a little bit better we've got to execute a little bit better. We failed to get a couple of bunts down but we played hard and we're very agressive and we've got a tough bunch of guys. We look forward to getting home and we hope The Sarge will be good to us.

What Does This Mean For South Carolina: I'm just so happy for our players, the school, the administration. These things are hard to come by in this league expecially. I'm just so happy for all our great Carolina fans.

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