South Carolina rolls past 49ers

May, 30, 2008

Editor's note:'s Heather Dinich will check in frequently with updates from the Raleigh Regional. For live scores throughout the NCAA tournament, click here.

South Carolina 15, Charlotte 8

RALEIGH, N.C. -- On Thursday night around his team's curfew check, South Carolina coach Ray Tanner was scanning Charlotte's batting order and noticed seven players in the lineup were hitting at least .333 and the other two were batting at least .300.

So when his Gamecocks jumped out to a 9-0 lead after five innings in the NCAA tournament's Raleigh Regional today, Tanner said he was still "on the edge of his seat."

He was about the only one.

"I knew they were coming," Tanner said. "That was a given. But we were able to answer a little bit."

Charlotte went through five pitchers and five scoreless innings before finally succumbing, 15-8, to South Carolina. It was the second straight year the Gamecocks beat the 49ers in a regional.

Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs said South Carolina looked like a faster, more athletic team than the one his team beat 11-2 on March 5.

"That was not pretty at all," Hibbs said of this afternoon.

• Charlotte has at least one more game to play and Hibbs didn't second-guess his decision to go with five different pitchers in the first game. (The school record set today, though, was by South Carolina, which had five batters hit by a pitch).

Joe Yermal (8-2) was credited with the loss, but Andrew Smith (69 pitches) saw the most time and gave up two earned runs, five hits and walked three batters in three innings.

Kelly McLain (43 pitches), Bryan Hamilton (36 pitches) and Sam Pierce (15 pitches) were also in the mix. The Niners closed their deficit to 10-7, which gave Hibbs the confidence to play whomever he needed to win.

"We felt like we had a shot there," Hibbs said. "We rolled the dice because we're trying to win this thing. We're not just here to hang out for a couple of days then go home. We rolled the dice a little bit.

"The point for us is to come up here and try and win the thing," Hibbs said. "We're going to put our best guys out there. We just didn't have the right mix today."

• Five different players hit home runs, including three-run shots by South Carolina redshirt sophomore DeAngelo Mack in the first inning and third baseman James Darnell's three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth.

"The ball's flying out of here," Hibbs said of Doak Field, home of NC State. "I think I'm probably more impressed with NC State's pitching numbers than I am with anything else right now."

• Equally as impressive as Mack's (a.k.a D-Mack) home run was his defensive effort. The lefty made an acrobatic diving catch in the second inning that could have easily turned into a double.

"I tried to get a jump on the ball," he said. "When he hit it I thought he had a sure double but the wind was blowing across and kept it up a little bit. It waited up for me so I grabbed it."

• Tanner was back in his old dugout at Dail Park, as he played for NC State from 1977-80, was an assistant under Sam Esposito from 1980-88 and later head coach for nine years (1989-96). He said a regional round is Raleigh was "long overdue."

"I was excited about that, but I would be excited if we were playing a regional in Palo Alto," Tanner said. "That's a special moment. It's a little bit of a twist that for the first regional game I was in the old dugout. It's kind of neat, but I'm just happy these guys were able to do what they did today and win the first game."

• South Carolina pitcher Sam Dyson is still undefeated at 8-0, but some outside the program wondered if he was kept in the game one pitch too long. Dyson went 6 2/3 innings and had a 0-2 count on Aaron Bray with two outs in the top of the seventh. Dyson left his last pitch up, though, and Bray hit a two-run homer that closed the gap to 10-7.

Mike Cisco got the save for the Gamecocks, and after the game, Tanner defended his decision to leave Dyson in as long as he did, saying his pitch count (113) was still reasonable.

"You're saying maybe I made a mistake?" Tanner asked a reporter in his postgame press conference. "Maybe I did. You've gotta trust in your players a little bit and he wanted to stay out there.

"He felt fine. He's an honest young man. I said, 'Do you want to stay in there? Your pitch count is still OK.' He said he wanted to go back. He made a mistake there with two strikes on the homer to right, but he gave us a quality start and battled hard against an outstanding club."

Dyson said he pitched well through five innings.

"Without some of the key defensive plays," he said, "it probably would've been a different story."


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