Gamecocks Down UCLA For First National Title …
Whit Merrifield drove in Scott Wingo with the College World Series winning run with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving South Carolina a 2-1 win in 11 innings over UCLA Tuesday night. The win secured the Gamecocks the first national championship in a “major” sport in school history, in what was the last CWS game ever played at the venerable Rosenblatt Stadium
South Carolina (54-16) won the best two-of-three CWS Finals 2-0, with a 7-1 game-1 victory on Monday. Centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the CWS Most Outstanding Player.
“Thank you very much for your enthusiasm. Thank you for your support,” South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner told the crowd at Rosenblatt after his team was presented its championship trophy. “And to UCLA, the greatest club we played all year and a class act.”
The win makes South Carolina only the third school from the SEC (along with LSU and Georgia) to win the College World Series. The Gamecocks also are the first team east of the Mississippi to win the title since Miami in 2001.
More notes and thoughts from CB360 Editor Sean Stires …
- UCLA (51-17) was trying to become the first school ever to win both the NCAA baseball and softball World Series in the same year. The 51 wins are the most in the history of UCLA baseball.
- South Carolina entered tonight’s game with the best team batting average (.294) and ERA (2.41) during the CWS. UCLA was third with its .282 BA and 3.89 ERA.
- The Bruins plated five runs in the 1st inning of Saturday’s 10-3 win over TCU to advance to the CWS Finals, but they scored single runs in two of the 20 innings in their two Finals losses.
- After making his first start of the season in last Friday’s elimination game vs. Clemson, South Carolina’s Michael Roth made his second start tonight. The lefty had tossed a 3-hitter with four strikeouts in Friday’s 5-1 win. Roth left tonight’s game trailing 1-0 after five innings. In his two CWS starts, the young southpaw totaled 14 IP, 9 hits, 2 ER, 7 K and 3 BB.
- Clemson lefthanded batters were only 1-for-20 in the Friday game, with the only hit coming in the 9th inning. UCLA’s Beau Amaral (also a LH hitter) matched that tonight with a 1st-inning infield single. Amaral then legged-out a double in his next at-bat, with one out in the 3rd inning. UCLA lefties were 2-for-7 vs. Roth.
- Before the game tonight, former L.A Dodger and current ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser was on the field with Monday’s starter, Gerrit Cole of UCLA. Hershiser was tutoring Cole on gripping pitches.
- UCLA starter Rob Rasmussen had to stand behind the mound for a good 30 seconds prior to the start of the bottom of the 6th inning, because Hershiser was finishing some kind of demonstration on ESPN. (We could not hear what they were saying on TV in the press box, but we had monitors & could see it). Do we really need the fundamentals of the game explained to us just because it’s a college game and not MLB? The pace of CWS games is already an issue.If they have to do gimmick demonstrations, can’t they do it in a picture-in-picture small screen so the game can keep moving? It’s not like anyone’s going to miss 30 seconds of play-by-play.
- Rasmussen tossed six shutout innings in his second CWS start. The junior threw 109 pitches and finished with 5 Ks.
- I was dumbfounded when a wave broke out in the bottom of the 8th inning tonight. The score was 1-0 UCLA and South Carolina had the tying run at first base. Shouldn’t that be enough to hold your attention?
- When South Carolina reliever Matt Price walked Steve Rodriguez to load the bases with two outs in the top of the 9th, it was the Gamecock bullpen’s first free pass allowed in 18 IP at the CWS. After a mound meeting, Price struck out Niko Gallego on three pitches to escape any harm.
- With the score tied 1-1 and South Carolina batting in the bottom of the 9th inning, there were cameras flashing on every pitch. The flashes continued through the 11th inning with the anticipation that each pitch to a Gamecock batter could be the last of the season and the last at Rosenblatt Stadium.
- After committing the error in the bottom of the 8th that allowed the tying run to score for the Gamecocks, UCLA first baseman Dean Espy punched a wooden dugout bench. He came out of the game defensively in the 9th. TV cameras showed him with an ice pack on his knuckles in the 10th inning. Adrian Williams entered and went to second base, Cody Regis moved from second to third and Trevor Brown went from third to first base.
- As the game moved to the 10th inning, a young blond girl (when I say young I’m guessing teenage to early 20s) came out of the leftfield stands and ran to center field. At least a dozen security guards scampered to the outfield grass to “apprehend” her. “Bye Blatt” was painted on her stomach.
- Not to be outdone, a guy jumped out of the leftfield bleachers in the bottom of the 10th. It took seven security guards to wrestle and subdue the skinny guy who was wearing only his underwear.
- Yesterday we had a sighting of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, and today UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel was here. Neuheisel was chatting it up with ESPN’s Erin Andrews in the top of the 4th inning, while Spurrier was sitting in his press box booth.
- Attendance for Tuesday’s game was 24,390 – the largest crowd at this year’s CWS. The 16-game total was 330,922 for an average of 20,683. Last year’s Series drew a total of 336,076.
- A bugle player gave us a rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” to close the last college game ever played at Rosenblatt Stadium, after a video tribute and fireworks display.
- Not everyone who coached at Rosenblatt Stadium is in awe of tradition. Former LSU head coach Skip Bertman told the Omaha World-Herald this week: “I’m not going to miss anything [about Rosenblatt]. I think the NCAA and Omaha have taken Rosenblatt as far as it can go. “There are so many great college baseball facilities, it doesn’t make sense to come to Omaha and have a less-than-perfect locker room. There’s not enough room in the concourse. The restrooms are small. We saw it a couple years ago when they redid Yankee Stadium, and I haven’t heard anyone say ‘Man I miss that old place’ … They’ve got a wider seat, better bathrooms and concession stands, and they’re going to love it here.”
- A lot of what Bertman says makes sense, and he should know since he’s been in and out of Rosenblatt as much as anyone in the past 20 years. I’ve never favored the move downtown, but I do think it is going to give that area a sorely needed boost. However, when they built the new Yankee Stadium they did everything they could to replicate the look and feel of the House That Ruth Built. That’s probably my biggest problem with the new stadium. With the exception of the partial red brick facade, nothing about it says tradition. Would it have been so hard to build a place that has even a hint of either Rosenblatt Stadium or any kind of retro feel that so many other new ballparks around the country have embraced?
- The College World Series has been on center stage for more than a week now, but here’s a cool college baseball note from outside of Omaha. Houston Mayor Annise Parker declared today “Anthony Rendon Day” in honor of the Rice star.
- Which is worse: (a) when your hotel room key doesn’t work; (b) when you see that housekeeping is in a room near yours, so you leave for several hours only to return to an uncleaned room; or (3) when you leave again and come back to find the housekeeper is cleaning your room? All three happened to me today … and I got a parking ticket. Is somebody trying to tell me something?