East Carolina will continue its quest for a national championship in the state of North Carolina.
Devin Harris singled in the winning run with two outs off USC’s Sam Dyson, who had just come in to pitch, to score Kyle Roller just ahead of center fielder Whit Merrifield’s throw as East Carolina advanced to the Super Regionals with a 10-inning, 10-9 victory against South Carolina on Monday night.
Roller had doubled off Curtis Johnson (2-1) with one out to start the rally.
The Pirates next travel to Chapel Hill to face instate nemesis North Carolina. The winner of that best-of-three Super Regional advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
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It was a hard-fought contest before 5,047 fans — most of them wearing purple and gold — at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Jackie Bradley’s two-run homer in the eighth gave the Gamecocks a three-run cushion that looked as if it would stand. USC (40-23) led the entire game, although the Pirates (46-18), the top seed in the regional, cut the lead to one run in the seventh. Johnson (2-1) tried to close out the game for USC, but he surrendered a massive three-run homer to Harris in the ninth to tie the game at 9-9.
When USC first got into the East Carolina bullpen, things started to happen offensively.
In the third inning, after starter Patrick Somers gave up a walk and a single, the Pirates replaced him with opening-night starter Chris Heston. He promptly allowed an RBI double to Parker Bangs, a sacrifice fly to Andrew Crisp, an RBI single to Bobby Haney and a two-homer to Scott Wingo as the Gamecocks built a 6-0 lead.
The Pirates got to starter Jay Brown in the fifth inning when Brandon Wood launched a long two-run homer to left to cut the lead to 6-2. Brown allowed three hits, two of the infield variety, over the first four innings. Bangs replaced Brown with two outs in the fifth.
Bangs gave up a pair of runs in the sixth on Jared Avchen’s RBI double and Trent Whitehead’s sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 7-4. Those runs nullified the RBI single by Justin Dalles in the top of the frame.
The Pirates crept back into the game with two runs in the seventh. Alex Farotto replaced Bangs after a leadoff single and hit a batter before allowing RBI singles to Dustin Harrington and Harris. That cut the USC lead to 7-6.
The Gamecocks got on the board first when Merrifield dropped an RBI single into left field off Somers with two outs in the second inning. The hit scored Haney, who had singled behind Crisp’s single. Haney moved to second when Crisp was cut down at the plate on Wingo’s fielder’s choice.