June 27, 2011

CBI Live: South Carolina 2, Florida 1 (11)

CWS Scores & Schedule


Walker answers the bell, helps USC edge Florida

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


(photo by Jimmy Jones)


OMAHA, Neb. – He wasn’t even supposed to play.


Christian Walker (left) was not in the original starting lineup for the opener of the championship series between South Carolina against Florida. He suffered a broken hamate bone and was expected to watch from the dugout.


“For the last half of yesterday,” Walker said, “I didn’t think I was going to be able to play. They (medical staff) did a great job. I can’t thank them enough.”


But he scored the game-winning run in the top of the 11th as the Gamecocks nipped the Gators in the opener of the championship series of the 2011 College World Series.


Walker looked good during batting practice, hitting a couple out along with several line drives. Word came to the press box that Walker would hit third and would start at first base.


How would he handle live pitching? After Florida’s Hudson Randall struck out the first two Gamecocks, Walker ripped the first pitch he saw down the right field line for a double. It was a healthy cut from the sophomore.


In his next two plate appearances against Randall, Walker hit grounders in the hole at short. Nolan Fontana made excellent stops and throws to first to retire Walker.


He would strike out to lead off the ninth against lefty Steven Rodriguez.


Jackie Bradley, Jr., was first to hit in the 11th for the Gamecocks against Nick Maronde. He ripped a liner that looked ticketed for right, but first baseman Preston Tucker made a diving catch for the first out.


Walker would single up the middle against Morande, ending his outing. Greg Larson took over on the mound for the Gators. On his first delivery, Adam Matthews swung and missed on a hit-and-run. Walker, who was 3 for 6 on stolen base attempts this season, hustled toward second. Mike Zunino’s throw to second went into center field as Walker scrambled to third. Bryson Smith fired the ball in toward third, but the throw was high and went out of play, allowing Walker to trot home with the go-ahead run.


“Christian’s not a guy that they would expect to take off in that situation,” USC head coach Ray Tanner said. “We sort of did it [for the] element of surprise. We didn’t plan on Matthews swinging through the pitch. But he got a pretty good jump and fortunately it wasn’t a good throw down there and he was able to move up.”


Fortunately for the Gamecocks, he was able to play.