South Carolina Rallies To Edge Florida In CWS Finals Opener

June 28, 2011
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Magic Continues For Defending Champs…

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CWS Finals Game 1: South Carolina 2-7-1 def. Florida 1-8-3
Final Stats | FL Recap | SC Recap

Florida starting pitcher Hudson Randall

Fifteen was the lucky number for South Carolina on Monday night at the 2011 College World Series.

Thirteen was not Hudson Randall‘s lucky number Monday night. The Florida starting pitcher had walked just 12 batters in 123 1/3 innings heading into the eighth inning of the College World Series Finals vs. South Carolina, but with he issued his 13th walk of the year to Peter Mooney to start the inning and it cost him in South Carolina’s 2-1 victory in 11 innings.

The Gamecocks tied Texas by winning their 15th straight NCAA Tournament game. The Longhorns won 15 in a row in 1983 and ’84.  South Carolina also tied USC (1972-’74) and LSU (1996-’98) with their 10th straight win at the CWS.

Randall, who was nursing a 1-0 lead after seven innings, had been dominant all night, having retired 18 of the previous 19 Florida batters (including 10 straight) and allowed just a pair of hits heading into the inning. In two starts vs. South Carolina this season, Randall totaled 16 2/3 IP, 10 strikeouts and allowed just eight hits with one walk.

Robert Beary followed Mooney’s walk with a sacrifice bunt to move him into scoring position. The shortstop then moved to third base on a flyout to centerfield by Evan Marzilli. Mooney scored when Scott Wingo sent a 2-2 pitch from Randall up the middle and into centerfield.

“Well, (Hudson) Randall, he had my number all night,” Wingo said after the game. “And that last at-bat I think I swung through two sliders, and I just said to myself: Stay late if I get beat  inside I get beat inside and he threw another curveball and I was able to hit it up the middle.”

Wingo’s hit snapped a 1-for-12 slump against the Gators this season. It was also his first hit since his game-winner against Texas A&M in South Carolin’s CWS opener nine days ago.

In a season and a series where runs have been at a premium, it was only fitting that both teams manufactured their runs. Florida scored the first run of the game in the third inning when Cody Dent‘s sacrifice fly scored Tyler Thompson, who had advanced to third base after a wild pitch by South Carolina starter Forrest Koumas.

The Gators looked like they had the game in hand in the bottom of the 9th inning when Mike Zunino worked a leadoff walk against John Taylor, who was facing his first batter in his 49th appearance of the year out of the Gamecock bullpen.

Brian Johnson failed to bunt Zunino to second, but got him all the way to third base when he ripped a 2-2 pitch into right field for a single. The action really started after an intentional walk to Josh Adams to load the bases.

With the infield in, Wingo dove to his right to snare a chopper off the bat of Tyler Thompson. Wingo jumped to his feet and fired to the first base side of the plate, but Beary was able to grab it and step on the plate for the force out and the first out of the inning.

With the infield still in, Daniel Pigott hit a hard hop right to Wingo, who this time fired a strike to Beary who then relayed to Christian Walker at first base to turn the 4-2-3 double play and send the game to extra innings.

“We needed to elevate the ball there, and to  their credit Wingo makes a great play,” said Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “And then Beary makes a great snag at the plate on the short hop and obviously they pick it to ground out the double play that was probably the most pivotal part of the game we probably needed to do something that inning unfortunately we didn’t you have to credit South Carolina they made the pitches and made the plays.”

Christian Walker played Monday despite a broken bone in his left hand.

Florida had a chance to win it again in the bottom of the 10th inning with two outs and Dent at second base. Zunino broke a 2-for-15 slump at the CWS when he lined a hit to left field. Dent was racing toward home on contact, but South Carolina left fielder Jake Williams gunned him out at the plate.

South Carolina scored the winning run in the top of the 11th when Christian Walker made a mad dash around the bases. Walker singled to lead-off the inning, stole second, took third base on a throw by Zunino that went into center field, and then scored when Bryson Smith’s errant throw skipped into the stands.

Walker was playing in the game despite suffering a broken bone in his left hand during Friday’s win over Virginia. He said he wasn’t sure himself if he would be able to take the field for the game.

“You know I knew it was going to take a lot of pain specifically for me not to play.  For the last half of yesterday I think I didn’t think I was going to be able to play. But you know, they came out and really — I mean, I’m speechless about it. And they did a great job. And I mean, I can’t thank them enough.”

Florida had a chance to at least tie it when Brian Johnson led-off the bottom of the 11th with a single, but after pinch-runner Paul Wilson replace him on the bases, South Carolina reliever Matt Price recorded the final three outs for his 19th save of his sophomore season. He is tied for the national lead with Corey Knebel of Texas.

Price was coming off a 5 2/3 inning, 95 pitch relief appearance on Friday in South Carolina’s 3-2 win in 13 innings vs. Virginia.

South Carolina can win a second straight national championship with a win over Florida Tuesday night. The Gators hope to force a third game of the CWS Finals if they can snap the Gamecocks’ 15-game NCAA streak on Tuesday.

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Notes

  • Florida was 46-0 this season when leading after seven innings heading into the game. South Carolina is now just 7-13 when trailing or tied after seven innings.
  • South Carolina played its second straight CWS extra innings game. Four of their last night games in Omaha have gone to extras…they are 4-0 in those games.
  • Florida was just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the game. The lone hit saw Dent thrown out at the plate with the potential winning run.
  • The Gamecocks have allowed just three earned runs in their four CWS games this year.
  • South Carolina has won seven of its 15 straight NCAA Tournament games by one run, including three of its four wins this week.
  • Ray Tanner’s “battling” squad also escaped two bases loaded situations in Friday’s 3-2 win over Virginia.
  • The Gamecocks will be the home team in Tuesday’s game.
  • Monday’s attendance was25,851,  making the total 2011 CWS attendance 294,963, for an average of 22,689.

CLICK HERE to see the CB360 Shutterfly photo page with shots of every team and most games from this year’s College World Series (All photos by Kirk Markus).

Florida's Tyler Thompson scored the first run of the game in the third inning.

Gamecocks catcher Robert Beary tags out Cody Dent at the plate.

Christian Walker slides safely into third base after Mike Zunino's overthrow at second allowed him to advance...

 

Walker scores the eventual game-winning run after another overthrow at third base.

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