June 5, 2010

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CBI Live
Cooper outduels Wojciechowski in South Carolina win

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


COLUMBIA, S.C. – He might not look like a first-rounder, but he pitches like one.


Senior Blake Cooper (5-10, 180) (right) fanned a career-high 12 as top-seeded South Carolina defeated third-seeded The Citadel and potential first-round draft pick Asher Wojciechowski (6-4, 235) 9-4 Saturday evening in the Columbia Regional in front of 7,418 fans at Carolina Stadium.


“It was a great atmosphere for college baseball and it was a great college baseball game,” said Gamecock head coach Ray Tanner.


The Bulldogs (43-21) had their 13-game win streak snapped. The Citadel will face second-seeded Virginia Tech on Sunday at 2 p.m. in an elimination contest. The winner will meet the Gamecocks (45-15) on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. and will need to beat USC twice to capture the regional title.


Cooper (11-1) allowed six hits, four runs (none earned) and three walks in 7.1 innings. No other Gamecock pitcher struck out 12 in a game this season.


“Wojciechowski was special, and so was Blake Cooper,” Tanner said, “two guys really in a duel out there. It seemed like they were striking everybody out. They had good stuff. It was a tough night for hitters.”


Kyle Enders lofted a high two-run homer to left with two outs in the top of the second to put the Gamecocks on top 2-0.


The Bulldogs got one back in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Kyle Jordan.


The Citadel had its first two retired in the fifth before Brad Felder struck out and reached first when the catcher didn’t hold onto the ball and made a bad throw to first. Matt Simonelli kept the inning going with a base hit and Bryan Altman belted a three-run homer, his 14th, to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 advantage.


The Gamecocks knocked Wojciechowski out in the seventh. USC had two on with one out when pinch-hitter Evan Marzilli singled to plate the pair and tie the game at 4.


“I didn’t make a good pitch there,” Wojciechowski said. “I set him up for a slider and with first base open and runners on second and third, I just didn’t make a good pitch. He did something with it, put it in play and got a base hit.”


Marzilli scored on a wild pitch with two outs to give the Gamecocks a 5-4 lead. Adrian Morales and Christian Walker both added RBI doubles as USC built a 7-4 edge.


The Bulldogs threatened in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out. Reliever Matt Price was able to induce a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat. Price pitched a perfect ninth to register his eighth save.


Cooper was matched up against another potential first-rounder in Drew Pomeranz of Ole Miss on April 16. Cooper pitched his first career shutout with 10 strikeouts in a 5-0 four-hitter.


Wojciechowski allowed seven runs, all earned, a career high. He pitched 6.2 innings with nine hits, one walk and 11 strikeouts.


“You have to credit South Carolina,” said Bulldog head coach Fred Jordan. “They beat a very good pitcher tonight. I thought Blake Cooper was by far the difference-maker on their side of the field.”


Morales finished with three hits and two runs. Brady Thomas had two hits and four runs for the Gamecocks.


Altman went 3 for 3 for the Bulldogs, while Jordan finished with two hits.