June 28, 2010

Championship Series Game 1 Recap: South Carolina 7, UCLA 1

Box Score

Shaping Up Benefits Cooper

UCLA Stumbles from Start

CWS Scores and Game Stories

College World Series Capsules


Gamecocks Get Offensive Lift from Defensive Guys

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

(Photos by Craig Jackson)


OMAHA, Neb. – South Carolina’s double-play combo of shortstop Bobby Haney (right) and second baseman Scott Wingo are more known for their leather than their sticks.


Haney, who bats eighth, came into the College World Series best-of-three championship against UCLA hitting .254 with three homers and 21 RBI. Yet, he has made six errors all year, good for a .975 fielding percentage. Wingo, who hits ninth, hits .250 with some pop (9 HR, 31 RBI). He’s made 10 errors and fields .968 for the Gamecocks, who field .976 as a team, which is in the Top 20 in the country.


Both played key roles in helping South Carolina strike first blood with a 7-1 win over the Bruins Monday night.


Haney went 2 for 3 with three RBI, including a huge two-out, two-run single in the third inning that gave the Gamecocks a 5-0 lead. Wingo tripled down the left-field line, just out of the reach of a diving Jeff Gelalich, and scored in the second and added another run late.


“Bobby and Scott take a lot of pride in their offense,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “It hasn’t been numbers-wise the years that they really like to have had. But they’ve contributed on a number of occasions for us.


“Those guys don’t take the approach that they’re hitting eighth and ninth, and it doesn’t matter. They try to help us, and tonight they came up big for us.”


The two-run single by Haney in the third was particularly big.


Trailing 3-0, flame-thrower Gerrit Cole and the Bruins faced a bases-loaded, no-out jam. Cole got Kyle Enders to hit a shallow pop fly to center. Christian Walker tagged from third but was held up, and Walker was slow in reacting to center fielder Beau Amaral’s sailing throw over catcher Steve Rodriguez. Walker then tried to score, but Cole, backing up on the play, fired a strike to Rodriquez at the plate for the second out of the inning.


Up came Haney, who fouled off a pitch and fell into an 0-2 hole. His soft liner was just hard enough to sail over first baseman Justin Uribe.




The Gamecocks’ offensive approach was to make Cole work and somehow put the ball in play. Haney and Walker were good examples of that. Haney entered with 37 strikeouts, and Wingo came in with 47 – the two top totals in the South Carolina lineup – yet didn’t strike out against Cole, who came in with 151 strikeouts in 116 innings. In fact, Cole didn’t strike out his first batter until the bottom of the sixth, when he trailed 6-0.




South Carolina got an early wake-up call Monday morning when the fire alarm in their hotel went off around 1:30 a.m. The Gamecocks evacuated the hotel and got back to their rooms around 2. “It might happen again tonight,” Tanner joked. “I might pull it tonight, keep the same routine.”




Second base was a bit of an adventure early on. UCLA’s Cody Regis – playing out of position after Tyler Rahmatulla’s dog-pile injury after the Super Regional – botched a grounder that cost the Bruins a run in the first. South Carolina’s Wingo made an error to open the game and was charged with a tough error in the third on a hit-and-run grounder that he speared and had to rush the backhand flip to second, which slipped past shortstop Haney.




Cole also had a defensive lapse, which played a role in the Gamecocks’ third inning. Walker hit a jam-sandwich looper to first that Uribe lunged for but couldn’t gather. Cole then walked Brady Thomas on five pitches to put runners on first and second. Adrian Morales came up to bunt and bunted hard back to Cole’s right, where the pitcher unsuccessfully tried to barehand the ball. Rather than getting an out – either at first and third – the error loaded the bases. Haney singled in two runs later in the inning.




The Rosenblatt crowd returned in droves as a gathering of 23,181 watched the first game between UCLA and South Carolina. Monday night’s crowd was just smaller than the combined 23,500 two-game attendance Saturday when UCLA beat TCU and South Carolina stopped Clemson.




It was a perfect night for baseball in Omaha, with temperatures in the mid-80s. Winds were blowing pretty good to right, knocking down balls a bit hit to center and left.




We always enjoy seeing some of the national media at the College World Series, who provide instant analysis and quite a bit of humor throughout the game. Sitting to our left are Kendall Rogers, the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com, and Mark Etheridge of SEBaseball.com. Right around first pitch Monday night, Rogers made a rare error, dropping his turkey-loaded sandwich from Jason’s Deli (shameless plug - one of the best places for parents with small children to eat) onto the floor of the press box. When UCLA’s Regis muffed a grounder in the first that gave the Gamecocks their second run, Etheridge quickly quipped, “He dropped it like a turkey sandwich.”




The word around the press box is that most of us picked the Bruins, and Etheridge said that he’d heard of only one media member who picked the Gamecocks: Steve Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald, who has covered every College World Series game at Rosenblatt since 1982.




On the way to the park, we heard sirens behind us and momentarily thought we might have done something wrong and might not make it to the game. Then we thought, maybe they’re going to give us a police escort. Alas, Omaha’s finest who were directing traffic were imploring us to get moving as we came to the final two intersections. They were trying to get us out of the way to the Bruins’ bus, the real recipient of the police escort.