Originally created 04/08/01

Pacers sweep ASU in double-header



AIKEN - USC Aiken got the relief it needed late in both games of a doubleheader against border rival Augusta State University on Saturday at J.H. Satcher Field.

But not on the mound.

The Pacers used a seven-run eighth inning to negate a five-run deficit en route to a 9-7 victory in game one. Game two saw USC Aiken tack on two runs in the sixth inning to beat Augusta State 3-1 in seven innings.

The Pacers lead the head-to-head series with Augusta State 31-10 after dropping two of three to the Jaguars in Augusta last season.

USC Aiken, which has won a school record nine consecutive home victories, will look to continue its streak at home today when they wrap up their series with the Jaguars at 2 p.m.

The Jaguars (19-19 overall, 6-14 Peach Belt) seemed well on their way to stopping the Pacers home streak when they jumped out ahead in the first contest, taking a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.

The Pacers Zach Conrad (4-6) had given up seven hits and three earned runs in eight innings of action.

"He didn't throw bad and he didn't throw great," Pacers head coach Kenny Thomas said. "We definitely weren't doing anything to help him defensively. And it didn't look like we were go do anything against their left-hander."

Matt Joaquim had given up two hits going into the eighth, but Tavis Cummings' one-out single started the comeback effort, which led to Joaquim being relieved by Marty Bruce after Cummings scored on an error.

Bruce, a North Augusta product, retired Troy Armstrong before giving up a single to pinch hitter Brian Patterson that advanced Rocky Curnayn to third base. Andres Verde stepped up next and drilled a three-run home run over the right field fence to cut the Jaguars lead to one.

After Clint Keown singled and advanced to second with Butch Martin reaching on an error, Heath Kennedy came in to relieve Bruce (3-2). Nate Grant, pinch hitting for Tony Hanks, singled off Kennedy to score both runners, giving the Pacers the lead for good.

The Pacers (24-16 overall, 10-10 Peach Belt) mounted six of their 11 hits in the eighth inning.

"They're finally realizing that you have to play an entire game and never stop believing," Thomas added. "Those guys could've sacked up and caved in. But they hung in there. And we got some real big hits by some guys who hadn't been playing well."

USC Aiken ace Chad Young (7-3) went the distance in game two, giving up four hits in seven innings, the most costly, a fifth inning solo home run to Mike McCarthy to give the Jaguars a 1-0 cushion.

After being quiet against Ricky Buffkin (3-4) for five innings, the Pacers again found a way to score. Verde remained hot from game one, singling to right field in the bottom of the fifth to score David Gillespie, who reached on error.

Verde was 2-for-4 with three RBI in game one and 2-for-3 with an RBI in game two. But Gillespie helped give USC Aiken the go-ahead run when his single down the third base line scored Nate Grant in the sixth.