Patriots Fall to South Carolina in Opening Round of NCAA Tournament
May 29, 2009
Greenville, N.C. - The George Mason baseball team was one-third of the way to a victory in the opening round of the Greenville Regional in the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon but second-seeded South Carolina exploded for eight unanswered runs and the third-seeded Patriots never recovered. Mason went on to lose to the Gamecocks, 11-3 at Clark-LeClair Stadium on the campus of East Carolina University. Mason will play either top-seeded ECU or fourth-seeded Binghamton on Saturday at 2 p.m. The loser of that game will be eliminated from the Regional.
Chris Henderson was 1 for 3 with two RBI and Mark Hill was 2 for 4 while Mason starter Mike Modica (11-2) allowed four earned runs in five innings. South Carolina's Sam Dyson (9-4) held Mason to three runs in seven innings on seven hits and four walks. Whit Merrifield was 2 for 5 with three RBI, Jackie Bradley, Andrew Crisp and Parker Bangs each had two RBI and Bangs and Bobby Haney each had three hits.
In the first inning, Mason (42-13) took its first lead in the NCAA Tournament since the early 90s. Henderson drew a one out walk, Scott Krieger singled and Justin Bour doubled to make it 1-0. Ryan Soares was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out, but the Patriots missed out on a big inning when Shane Davis grounded into a double play. In the second, Hill led off with a single but was erased on a double play. Mason also had runners in the third and fourth with one out, but neither time could they add to the lead.
South Carolina (39-21) finally got to Modica in the fourth. Jackie Bradley led off with a single and with one out, Crisp hit a grounder to the right of shortstop Brent Weiss. The senior bobbled the ball allowing Crisp to reach and Weiss then threw the ball into rightfield trying to catch the speedy Bradley at second. The errant ball allowed Bradley to score to tie the score at 1-1. Parker Bangs followed with a two-run homer to right to make it 3-1. Later in the inning, Bobby Haney doubled, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Merrifield single to left.
In the fifth, Justin Dalles led off with a single and with one out, Bangs and Haney singled to load the bases. With two outs, Merrifield singled to center to make it 6-1. Nick Ebert led off the sixth by reaching off an error off reliever Jason Koziol and Bradley followed with a blast to right to make it 8-1.
After struggling through the middle innings, Mason finally got to Dyson in the seventh when with one out, Ryan Uphouse singled through the left side, Spencer Wiggins reached on a walk and Henderson followed with a two-run double down the leftfield line to make it 8-3. The double tied Henderson for the school's career record in that department. After a long at-bat, Krieger walked but Bour flew out to left to bring up Soares. The junior second baseman and Dyson locked in an epic 13 pitch at-bat which concluded with a called strike three to end the inning.
South Carolina got the runs back in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Ebert homered off Kevin Lingerman and Bradley and Dalles followed with singles. Then the game was delayed for an hour and 20 minutes due to lightening and rain. When play resumed, Crisp doubled off the first pitch from Ryan Brecko to make it 11-3.