June 6, 2010

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Gamecocks use six-run sixth to capture Columbia Regional

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


COLUMBIA, S.C. – They came from behind in all three regional wins.


Jackie Bradley Jr. (left) had a three-run homer to cap a six-run sixth as top-seeded South Carolina defeated second-seeded Virginia Tech 10-2 on Sunday evening to win the Columbia Regional in front of 6,233 fans at Carolina Stadium.


The Gamecocks will meet the winner of the Myrtle Beach Regional in the Super Regional. Top-seeded Coastal Carolina and second-seeded College of Charleston will play on Monday evening to determine South Carolina’s opponent.


“I’m very happy to be in this position right now, said Gamecock head coach Ray Tanner. “Our guys did a terrific job for three days. We got behind all three games. We battled hard and played good defense, continued to get some good pitching. Hitting was timely. We played about as good as we can, and we’re looking forward to continuing playing.”


South Carolina fell behind early as it did each of the past two days. Michael Seaborn drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first for the Hokies (40-22) and Steve Domecus followed with a long home run to left to give Tech a 2-0 advantage. It was his 13th long ball this season.


The Gamecocks scored single runs in the fourth and fifth to tie it. Brady Thomas had a leadoff double in the fourth and came home on a two-base hit by Christian Walker. Evan Marzilli singled an inning later and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bradley to even it at 2-2.


South Carolina took control in the sixth. Walker and Kyle Enders had back-to back one-out singles. Bobby Haney flew out to center, moving Walker to third. Scott Wingo sent a base hit up the middle to plate Walker with the go-ahead run. Evan Marzilli and Whit Merrifield added run-scoring singles, chasing Hokie starter Mathew Price. Bradley greeted reliever Sean McDermott with a long homer to right to give the Gamecocks an 8-2 advantage.


The dinger extended Bradley’s hit streak to 14 games.


USC added single runs in the seventh and eighth to round out the scoring.


“I was ecstatic,” Bradley (left) said about the victory. “To get this far and finally do it, it feels great. But once again, we’ll let it settle in for a couple of hours, and then we have to get back to work. We’re still not there yet.”


Gamecock starter Jay Brown lasted 3.2 innings and turned the ball over to Jose Mata, who was superb out of the pen. Mata (7-1) pitched 4.1 scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and a career-high five strikeouts.


“I just went out there and tried to pound the zone,” Mata said. “I tried to get ahead of hitters as much as I could.”


Michael Roth tossed a perfect ninth to preserve the victory.


Price allowed 11 hits and seven runs in 5.2 innings with no walks and three strikeouts.


Bradley finished with four RBI, while Marzilli went 3 for 5 with two runs and one RBI.


Domecus had two hits and two RBI for the Hokies.


“Disappointing end to a great day of baseball,” said Hokie head coach Pete Hughes. “We got to play twice in a great venue. I wish we could have played better, but we didn’t. I’m really proud of the way my kids battled and represented a great university.”


Virginia Tech reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000.


"That's our next goal, to become a consistent winner," Hughes said. "That's the next goal in the evolution of the program. You go from winning to regional play to knocking on the road to Omaha, then sustaining it. I love the direction we're going."


Columbia Regional All-Tournament Team

C Kyle Enders, South Carolina

1B Austin Wates, Virginia Tech

2B Bryan Altman*, The Citadel

SS Kyle Jordan, The Citadel

3B Adrian Morales*, South Carolina

OF Evan Marzilli, South Carolina

OF Buddy Sosnoski, Virginia Tech

OF Jackie Bradley Jr., South Carolina

DH Brady Thomas, South Carolina

P Blake Cooper, South Carolina

P Matt Talley, The Citadel

Most Outstanding Player: Adrian Morales, South Carolina


*Unanimous selection

(photo by Jimmy Jones)