ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - The sixth-seeded University of South Carolina Aiken Pacers pulled off the first upset of the tournament Saturday afternoon behind a fourth-inning grand slam to right field by Alyssa Cook to defeat the third-seeded and nationally 13th-ranked University of North Georgia Saints 5-2 at Flagler Field in the third quarterfinal of the 2013 Peach Belt Conference Softball Tournament hosted by Flagler College.
USC Aiken (25-20-1) will advance to the semifinal round on Sunday and will play the winner of the game between Georgia College and Francis Marion University at 1:30 p.m. The other semifinal game will be played at 11:00 a.m. between top-seeded Armstrong Atlantic State University and fourth-seeded Columbus State University.
The game featured quite the pitchers' matchup as USC Aiken sent India Kornegay, the PBC Freshman of the Year in 2011, to the circle with her 1.28 earned run average to compete against 2013 PBC Freshman of the Year Courtney Poole from North Georgia (36-12) with a 1.94 ERA. The duo entered the game with 444 strikeouts between them and 352.1 innings of work this season.
The two pitched no-hitters through the first two innings until USC Aiken finally broke through in the third with a single hit.
That was the spark the Pacers needed as they went on in the fourth to register five unearned runs off three hits, including Cooke's grand slam, and a North Georgia error to go up 5-0. Cooke ended the game 3-3 at the plate with her four RBIs and one run scored.
The Saints were unable to find much of an answer in the bottom of the frame, but in the next inning, North Georgia plated two runs to cut the deficit to just three as All-PBC First Team catcher Kim McMillan knocked in a pair of runs with a single to right-center field.
North Georgia loaded the bases again in the top of the sixth, but USC Aiken's Taylor Morgan ended the threat without giving up another run as she came in to pitch the final two innings.
It was the first time since the second game of a regular-season PBC doubleheader during the 2009 season that the Pacers were able to defeat the Saints.
Kornegay (14-12) earned the win in the circle with 10 strikeouts while giving up just two hits and two unearned runs in five innings of work while Morgan earned her first save of the season. Poole (22-7) accepted the loss for North Georgia, pitching five innings.