Disher's Heroics Lift USC To Comeback Win

With rain in the forecast for Sunday and beautiful weather gracing the Columbia skies on Saturday afternoon, South Carolina decided to play a doubleheader to finish off their weekend series with Eastern Michigan. In the first game of the day, the Gamecocks continued their hot play, beating the Eagles 8-5 on a dramatic 9th inning rally. Read inside for full story.



The game started off well for Ray Tanner's squad. Cheyne Hurst led off the day with a double, and Lonnie Chisenhall followed with an RBI double to give Carolina a quick 1-0 lead. For the moment, it appeared the Gamecocks were headed for an easy afternoon, but they were in for a much greater challenge than anticipated, as USC managed just three more hits before the 9th inning.

Eastern Michigan was more than up to the task. The Eagles played small ball perfectly, manufacturing 2 runs in the second inning without a multi base hit. The Eagles moved runners to second and third when pitcher Jay Brown was called for a balk, scoring the first run. Eastern Michigan added another run on a suicide squeeze by Aaron Powell, and then the Eagles repeated the process in the third inning. A pair of singles led to a two RBI double by Jeff Davis and a 4-1 lead.

The Gamecocks added a run on a homer by Drew Martin in the 4th inning, his second of the year. The Eagles answered the run in the 5th to make it 5-2 and set up a fantastic finish.

Carolina threatened in the 8th inning, but was unable to capitalize on opportunities. Chisenhall hit his second double of the game, and Justin Smoak appeared to bring him home on a double down the right field line. However, the ball was ruled foul, and the Gamecocks were unable to get another hit.

Trailing 5-2 entering the 9th, the Gamecocks needed a miracle. Steven Reinhold, who entered the game when Andrew Crisp was injured by a pitch, led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. Eagles coach Roger Coryell brought in freshman RHP Corey Chaffins to try and finish off the Gamecocks. James Darnell fouled out, and then Trent Kline hit a single. Jon Willard came to the plate as the tying run, and tried to do just that. Willard hit a warning track shot to left field, but Eagles outfielder Michael Boyd dropped the ball as he hit the wall, allowing Reinhold to score.

Now down 5-3 with runners on first and third, Hurst drew a walk, loading the bases. Every Gamecock fan then held their breath as Chisenhall hit a double-play ball up the middle. However, the freshman showed his hustle and determination by beating out the throw, keeping the Gamecock hopes alive, and allowing Kline to score. Now down 5-4, Smoak drew a walk to load the bases again. With bases loaded and two outs, Phil Disher stepped to the plate with the game resting on his shoulder.

Disher knew exactly what he wanted, and swung at the first pitch. As soon as he made contact, everyone in the crowd of 5,610 knew the game was over. Disher's walk off grand slam landed somewhere behind the centerfield wall while Disher was being mobbed at the plate.


Player of the Game: Phil Disher.

The junior slugger hit his second career grand slam to win the game. His first grand slam came last year in the Regionals against Virginia.

Key Moment: Disher never would have been in position to hit the game winner if Chisenhall had not managed to outrun what appeared to be an easy double play. His hustle kept the Gamecocks alive.

Notes:

- Jay Brown struggled for the Gamecocks, giving up 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings. However, Will Atwood and Jordan Costner pitched well out of the bullpen. They combined to hold the Eagles scoreless on three hits.

- For Eastern Michigan, George Biddle pitched 7 2/3 innings of fine baseball, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits. Dan Puls faced two batters and was charged with an earned run. Chaffins then entered the game for the save, and faced 7 batters, giving up 5 runs on 3 hits.

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