June 29, 2010

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Roth, Price Dig Deep for Gamecocks

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CBI Live
Merrifield's Hit in the 11th Gives Gamecocks National Title

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

(Photos by Craig Jackson)


OMAHA, Neb. – Whit Merrifield had a single to right with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to score Scott Wingo from third base and give South Carolina a 2-1 win over sixth-seeded UCLA Tuesday evening in Game 2 of the Championship Series of the 2010 College World Series in front of 24,390 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.


It is the first national championship in baseball for the Gamecocks (54-16).


It was the 61st and final championship at historic Rosenblatt Stadium. Next year, the College World Series moves to TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha.


Wingo squared around on a 3-2 pitch and drew a walk against Dan Klein to start the 11th. He moved to second on a passed ball and Evan Marzilli (right) sacrificed him to third.


“With his count 3 and 2,” Gamecock head coach Ray Tanner said, “I gave him the push bunt base hit to third base. I never have done that my entire career. I just felt they had moved back at third. In that situation with Klein out there pitching as well as he was, I kept thinking it might be easier to push the ball toward third base than it would be to get a hit. Wingo gave me a double take, a triple take, and he got a pitch low. He gets on, he moves up with the passed ball, bunts to third and Whit goes the other way. Just gotta find a way to win.”


After striking out in the ninth against Klein, Merrifield sent a 2-0 pitch to right to drive in Wingo with the game-winner.


“He threw me fastballs, which I would have loved to have seen my first at-bat,” Merrifield said. “His fastball still had some life on it. The first two he threw me were low in the dirt. The 2-0 pitch was still a pretty good pitch. I just happened to get the barrel on it and it found a hole.”


Matt Price (5-1) (left) earned the win for South Carolina, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and three strikeouts.


Klein (6-1) allowed one hit over 3.1 innings with one run, two walks and four strikeouts in absorbing the loss.


South Carolina starter sophomore left-hander Michael Roth pitched the first five innings and allowed six hits and one earned run with two walks and three strikeouts. He made 77 pitches, 52 for strikes.


Never would I have ever thought that I was going to start a game here in Omaha,” Roth said. “It's been great. I'm honored that they called upon me. It's a wonderful feeling to be a starting pitcher of the final game in Omaha.”


Jose Mata (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K), Tyler Webb (0.1 IP) and John Taylor (1.0 IP) held the Bruins in check prior to the arrival of Price.


UCLA starter junior left-hander Rob Rasmussen tossed six scoreless innings with six hits, four walks and five strikeouts. Erik Goeddel allowed two hits and one unearned run in one inning with one strikeout.


The Bruins (51-17) finally broke through in the top of the fifth. Trevor Brown started the inning with a base hit to deep short in which he just beat the throw to first. After he was sacrificed to second, Niko Gallego singled to left center to bring Brown home with the game’s first run.


South Carolina eventually tied it in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Brady Thomas had a leadoff single and was replaced by pinch-runner Robert Beary, who moved to second on a fielder’s choice. Bobby Haney hit a bouncer to first that was mishandled, allowing Beary to score the tying run.


The Bruins had a chance to take the lead in the top of the ninth. With two outs, Chris Giovinazzo reached on an error and moved to third on a base hit by Brown. Steve Rodriguez walked before Price struck out Gallego to end the threat.


“That strikeout Matt had, I've seen him do that before,” Tanner said. “When you've got the stuff that Matt does, he's going to make some pitches. And it's not easy to lay off, especially in that situation.”


Klein was dominant in the bottom of the ninth. He struck out Merifield swinging, fanned Jackie Bradley Jr. looking and got Christian Walker to foul out to the catcher to send the game to the 10th.


Both teams got runners on in the 10th, but could not score. UCLA went down in order in the top of the 11th.


Marzilli, Walker and Haney each had two hits for the Gamecocks. Wingo drew three walks.


Brown, Beau Amaral and Brett Krill each had two hits for the Bruins, who stranded 10 in the game.


“We just couldn't knock the door down and get a couple of runs early,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “And it might have been the difference in the game. But, the national championship is supposed to be played like that. And we came up short tonight.  But we're very proud and look forward to the future.”