In a game that will be remembered for a long time by USC fans, Carolina scored five runs in the top-of-the-ninth inning to defeat defending national champion Miami, and earn a long-awaited return trip to Omaha and the College World Series. Fourth-ranked Carolina staged the improbable rally from three runs down to win game three of the Super Regional in Columbia.
It looked as if USC would come up one game short of Omaha once again as they had done the previous two years. They trailed the Hurricanes 4-1 heading into the ninth inning, and hadn’t had a hit since the fourth inning.
Yaron Peters started the rally with a double to the left-centerfield gap. Brian Buscher singled, putting runners at first and third. Then, pinch-hitter Trey Dyson, mired in a 1-21 slump, broke out with a double to the gap in left. Peters scored, Buscher stopped at third momentarily, but then scored after a bobble by the Miami second baseman, making the score 4-3.
Garris Gonce continued the onslaught with another double, which knocked in the tying run. Justin Harris beat out a bunt, followed by a sac bunt laid down by Landon Powell, putting runners at second and third with one out. Then, Kevin Melillo’s groundout to third did not get a runner home, so runners remained at second and third, but with two outs.
Then Canes pitcher Andrew Cohn threw an 0-2 pitch to Drew Meyer in the dirt that eluded the catcher, allowing Gonce to sprint home with the go-ahead run. Moments later, another pitch eluded the catcher, and Harris sprinted home with run number six. A third out was finally recorded, but the damage had been done, as USC now led 6-4.
Pitcher John Wesley entered the game in the ninth for Carolina. Wesley allowed two hits, but with the tying runs on base, got Jim Burt to fly out to right-fielder Tim Seaton for the third out, sending Carolina to Omaha for the first time in 17 years.
Many consider this to be the most exciting game ever witnessed at Sarge Frye Field. If nothing else, it may have been the most important inning (9th) in USC baseball history. Carolina’s baseball fortunes would have been a whole lot different without this miraculous comeback.