Gamecock Bats Sizzle in 15-8 Tourney Win

NCAA Regional play began today for the South Carolina Gamecocks as they played the Charlotte 49ers in the first game of the day in Raleigh, NC. South Carolina flexed their muscles early, jumping all over the Niners, as Sam Dyson dominated in the first five innings and Carolina held on to win game one 15-8. They now advance to take on the winner of tonight's NC State/James Madison match-up.

South Carolina used 16 hits, including two home runs - both three-run shots - to score 15 runs, defeating Charlotte to move onto the winners' bracket of the Raleigh Regional.

Head coach Ray Tanner expected a comeback from the 49ers and they did not disappoint. "They won 43 games and are a very good club. They have some special players in that lineup. It took every single run we got today (to win)." In the early going, the Gamecocks flashed some leather, helping their pitcher keep the 49ers off the scoreboard.

Tanner spoke of the defense's impact on this game. "He (DeAngelo Mack) made a tremendous play in left center. (James) Darnell made two great plays for us at third base in the first inning. It's a long game but I thought those were key moments."

Charlotte sent their ace to the mound, freshman Joe Yermel, who came into the game 8-1 on the season. South Carolina wasted no time jumping on the 49er hurler, making his NCAA tournament appearance a short one.

The Gamecocks struck early, scoring four in the first and two in the second. Yermel was chased after only 1.1 innings pitched, surrendering five runs on five hits.

The four-run first was highlighted by a three-run opposite field shot off the bat of left handed batting D-Mack.

Charlotte skipper Loren Hibbs turned to Kelly McClain, the 49ers top reliever, to keep his team in the game. This did not change their fortune, as McClain walked Whit Merrifield and gave up run-scoring single to Justin Smoak.

Smoak was 4 for 4 on the day with three RBIs and three runs scored. "I saw some off-speed pitches and tried to stay back just trying to use the whole field," Smoak said after the game.

The Gamecocks got a scare in the second when Harley Lail, stumbling after a foul ball, hit the wall awkwardly, and was down for a few minutes. Lail bruised his knee and did not remain in the game. Tanner did say that Lail will play right field tomorrow if he feels well.

Carolina continued to build on their lead, scoring three in the fourth, staking them to a 9-0 lead.

The bottom of the order also contributed for USC as DH Parker Bangs had three hits, Andrew Crisp had two hits after replacing Lail in right, and Scott Wingo also had two hits.

Sam Dyson was the starting pitcher for the Cocks and after five strong innings, his 17 inning scoreless streak came to an end in the top of the sixth. Charlotte's bats came to life. The Niners were able to plate four runs, getting their club back in the game.

Dyson would give up seven runs in back-to-back innings, including homers to two 49er batters that came into the game with a combined four home runs on the season.

Junior right hander Mike Cisco has embraced his new role coming out of the pen, and was able to quell Charlotte's offensive attack and assure that his team advance to play in the winners' bracket.

Cisco was strong, allowing only one run on a solo shot, and allowing Ray Tanner to save his other arms for the rest of this regional.

With the game still in doubt and Carolina leading 10-7 in the eighth inning, they were able to put a five spot on the board and put this one out of reach. The SEC's leading RBI man, James Darnell, came to bat with two on and two runs already across in the inning, and drove in his 79th, 80th, and 81st runs of the season with a blast over the left field wall.

The Gamecocks would surrender one more run in the ninth and close out the game as 15-8 winners.

Charlotte plays the first game tomorrow at 2:00 against the loser of tonight's NC State/James Madison game. The loser of that game will go home.

USC gets the luxury of waiting until tomorrow night to play again, taking on the winner of that game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00.

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