May 27, 2004
Hoover, Ala. - For the second time this season the Tennessee Volunteers could not find a way to break through against South Carolina's Aaron Rawl as he pitched the Gamecocks to a 5-1 victory before a Hoover-Met Stadium crowd of 6,547 in game eight of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Rawl (11-4), who struck out a season-high eight, picked up where he left off after pitching a two-hit shutout against Tennessee two weeks ago in Columbia as he held the Vols to a single run on four hits in eight-plus innings.
Chad Blackwell, who entered with runners on first and second, struck out two with an infield popup for his league-leading 13th save.
Tennessee (37-21) falls into the loser's bracket where it will face Arkansas (38-20) in an elimination game Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. It must win to force a rematch with South Carolina (43-15) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET. The Vols have to beat the Gamecocks twice to advance to Sunday's title game.
South Carolina plated two runs on two hits and a Vol error in the second. After Kevin Melillo drew a walk and Steve Pearce fouled out, Michael Campbell lined a single to left. Melillo raced to third and scored on third baseman Kyle Norrid's wild throw into right field trying to get Campbell at second. Two batters later, Davy Gregg singled to right scoring Campbell.
A Gamecock error with two out in the third opened the door for the Volunteers who loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Eli Iorg and Josh Alley before Alex Suarez lined out to a diving Melillo at second base to end the threat.
But the Vols were able to capitalize in the fifth as Brian Cleveland led off with a ground-rule double that bounced over the fence in right and scored on a Kelly Edmundson's hit to cut the lead to 2-1.
An RBI single by Landon Powell, followed by Brendan Winn's triple in the bottom of the fifth gave the Gamecocks a 4-1 lead. Steven Tolleson got things started with a one-out double down the left field and scored on Powell's sinking liner right that Rob Fitzgerald misplayed allowing him to take third. Winn then smashed a hit to right-center that just got past a racing Josh Alley for a triple plating Powell.
Craig Cobb (3-4), who allowed four runs on six hits in seven solid innings, suffered his fourth consecutive loss in a starting roll. Of course, run support has been lacking as the Vols have managed just four runs in those starts, including being shut out twice. Dusty Johnson and Beau Massey pitched the eighth.
The Gamecocks plated an unearned insurance run in the eighth as Winn got hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a throwing error to first base by Edmundson.