USC Overcomes Weather, ECU To Win Game 1

USC had to battle more than the East Carolina Pirates Saturday in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional at Sarge Frye Field. A 4-1/2 hour rain delay after the fifth inning meant the game, which started at 1:00 p.m., did not conclude until 8:00 p.m. USC held a 2-0 lead when the rains came and built the lead to 4-0 in the 6th before ECU scored a pair of runs in the 8th to make it interesting. USC needs one more win to qualify for the College World Series for the third straight season.

Mother Nature proved to be nearly as difficult a foe for South Carolina Saturday in Game 1 of the Super Regional as East Carolina.

USC jumped out to a 2-0 lead after five innings, waited out a long rain delay, and then finished off East Carolina, 4-2, before 5,537 soggy fans at Sarge Frye Field to take a 1-0 series lead. The victory moved USC within one victory of its third consecutive trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

After USC staked out a 2-0 lead after five innings, a torrential rainstorm moved through the Columbia area and interrupted play for nearly 4-1/2 hours before the contest finally resumed at 7:05 p.m.

Matt Campbell, Jason Fletcher, and Chad Blackwell limited the high-powered East Carolina attack to seven hits, four in the first seven innings. ECU scored twice in the 8th, and had the tying run at the plate, to make it interesting but fell short. Blackwell got the final four outs to pick up his 18th save of the season.

Once the game restarted, USC had the better of the play early. Jason Fletcher came on for USC starter Matt Campbell (5.0 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 6 K) and retired the Pirates in order in the 6th and 7th innings.

Steve Pearce led off the USC 6th with a solo homer to left to give USC a 3-0 lead. The blast was one of two extra-base hits by USC on the day. Landon Powell walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kevin Melillo, and eventually scored on Michael Campbell's single to left.

After both clubs went down in order in the 7th, ECU scored a pair of runs in the 8th on a healthy dose of two-out lightning. Consecutive doubles drove Fletcher from the mound in favor of closer Chad Blackwell, who immediately surrendered a run-scoring single to center on his first pitch. Blackwell got the third out on a fly to center.

An error by Tolleson on a routine grounder to short allowed ECU's leadoff hitter to get on base. But Blackwell shut the door, getting a groundout, flyout, and popout to short to end the game.

USC's Matt Campbell and ECU's Greg Bunn were locked in an intense pitchers duel for five innings Saturday before the rains came.

ECU wasted some good scoring opportunities early against Campbell. Campbell surrendered a leadoff double in the 1st to Jaime Paige before a 3-4 sacrifice moved the runner to third. Campbell bore down, striking out Conference USA Player of the Year Ryan Jones (.402) and getting Ryan Norwood (.383) to ground out to third to end the inning.

USC did nothing against ECU starter Greg Bunn in the 1st, with a groundout and two strikeouts.

Campbell encountered trouble in the 2nd, giving up a single and walk with two outs. He went to 3-2 on ECU's No. 9 hitter before painting the black with a nasty curve for strike three.

Landon Powell's post-season slump (0-for-12 entering the Super Regional) continued when he struckout looking to lead off the 2nd. Melillo flied to center and Winn struckout to conclude the inning.

Campbell issued another two-out walk in the 3rd to Jones before Norwood lined a double to left to put two runners into scoring position. But Campbell got Mike Grace to loft a lazy fly to right on the first pitch to end the threat. ECU stranded five runners in the first three innings.

After the first eight USC batters had been retired by Bunn, the Gamecocks finally got a baserunner when Davy Gregg legged out an infield hit to short with two outs in the 3rd. He promptly stole second but Tolleson struckout looking (giving Bunn five K's in the first three innings) for the final out.

Campbell retired ECU in order for the first time in the 4th, getting the final out on a strikeout.

Triplett led off the bottom of the 4th with a sharp single to center on the first pitch. After Pearce struckout for the second time, Triplett used the element of surprise to swipe on a delayed teal. He advanced to third when the ECU catcher blocked a pitch in the dirt but couldn't locate the ball.

Powell selected a good time to snap out of his slump, smacking a bouncing single to right on a 3-2 pitch to drive in Tolleson with the first run of the game. Melillo and Winn struckout to end the inning, giving Bunn eight K's through four innings.

A bunt single gave ECU a baserunner with one out in the 5th. A stolen base on a missed hit-and-run call placed the runner into scoring position. A 6-3 groundout to Tolleson advanced the runner to third with two outs and prompted a visit by Jerry Meyer to the mound.

After barely missing on a pair of two-strike pitches to Jones, Campbell's next pitch was low in the dirt. Jones swung and missed for strike three.

Michael Campbell led off the USC 5th with a line double to center. Mahoney popped to short before Gregg's bunt advanced Campbell to third. That was a key play, as Tolleson followed with another bunt that couldn't be handled by the ECU third baseman. Campbell scored to give USC a 2-0 lead.

With the rain coming down, Triplett put a charge into the ball but flied out deep to left for the final out. After the inning, the umps called for the tarp, halting play until 7:00 p.m.

SUPER REGIONAL NOTES: This is the fifth straight year USC has advanced to the Super Regionals. . .With Vanderbilt's loss to Texas, the SEC could put as many as five teams into the CWS, though it is unlikely. The most teams one league has ever brought to Omaha is four. . .USC and East Carolina are facing each other for the fifth time in the NCAA Tournament. They met last year in the Georgia Tech Regional. The post-season history between USC and ECU goes all the way back to 1974. . .USC now leads the all-time series against ECU, 12-4. . . Eight Gamecocks were selected in the MLB draft this week, two (Landon Powell and Matt Campbell) in the first round. . .Coming into the weekend, USC had the second most wins by one school (255) over the last five seasons. Florida State has 259 wins. . .USC is now 39-8 this season when scoring first. . .ECU's Greg Bunn suffered his first loss of the season. He was 10-0 coming in. . .Matt Campbell is now 10-4, becoming the second USC pitcher to reach double figures in wins. Sunday's starter Aaron Rawl has 12 wins, most in the SEC. . .USC has a nine-game winning streak. . .Davy Gregg swiped his team-leading 14th stolen base of the season in the 3rd inning. . .The homer by Steve Pearce in the 6th was his 20th of the season. He now leads USC in that category. Pearce has four homers in the NCAA Tournament. . .Jason Fletcher retired 8 in a row before giving up two doubles in the 8th. . .Fletcher has struckout nine and given up seven hits in 7.2 IP in the NCAA Tournament. . .Chad Blackwell has picked up a save in his last six appearances. . .Matt Campbell now has 20 career wins for USC.


USC HEAD COACH RAY TANNER: "W e were very fortunate to win the game. I thought it was key that Matt Campbell got out of those early jams. Matt has pitched big games for us before. We felt he was our best guy lately."

EAST CAROLINA HEAD COACH RANDY MAZEY: "That was a tough day of baseball. If you are a pure baseball fan you probably enjoyed that. There was good pitching, well played defense, and good hitting. It was two teams battling it out. Our guys battled hard and showed me something at the end of the game there."


ECU – 000 000 020 = 2-7-0

USC – 000 112 00x = 4-7-0

WP – Matt Campbell (10-4)

LP – Greg Bunn (10-1)

SAVE-Chad Blackwell (18)

HR- USC, Steve Pearce (6th, none on)

TIME- 2:34 (Game halted at 2:38 p.m. for 4 hours, 28 minutes)

A- 5,577.

Super Regional Schedule: Sun. 6/13 – 12 Noon - USC v. ECU – Game 2

Mon. 6/14 – USC v. ECU – Game 3 (If Nec.)

Super Regional Scoreboard- Sat. 6/12: Georgia 5, Georgia Tech 3 (UGA advances to CWS) Miami 8, Florida 7 (UM leads 1-0) Texas 10, Vanderbilt 2 (TEX advances to CWS)

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