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Monday June 27, 2011South Carolina Works 11 Innings To Take CWS Championship Finals Opener Over Florida, 2-1

Omaha, Neb.

South Carolina (54-14) capitalized on a pair of throwing errors by Florida (53-18) in the 11th inning to post a 2-1 victory in the opening game of the 2011 CWS Championship Finals in front of 25,851 fans at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on Monday night. The Gamecocks can secure their second-straight national title by winning game two of the best-of-three series on Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ESPN, while the Gators will look to force a decisive game three on Wednesday night.

 

With Florida holding a 1-0 lead with two down in the eighth, USC senior Scott Wingo brought home junior Peter Mooney with the tying run from third base by slicing a 2-2 pitch from sophomore Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) up the middle.

 

Florida had a golden opportunity to emerge victorious in the bottom of the ninth, when it had the bases loaded with none out. Sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) earned a free pass on a nine-pitch at bat against senior John Taylor to begin the inning and sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (3-for-5) delivered a single into right field for runners on the corners. Senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) was walked intentionally to load the bases and Taylor had a grounder by junior Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) to second baseman Wingo force Zunino at home for the first out. Taylor had junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) ground into an inning-ending 4-2-3 double play to provide the fans with free baseball.

 

UF had another chance to win the game in the 10th, when Zunino roped a two-out single into left field off Taylor with sophomore Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) on second base. However, South Carolina junior left fielder Jake Williams threw a perfect strike to senior catcher Robert Beary to nail Dent at the dish. †

 

Junior first baseman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) made a diving stab to rob junior Jackie Bradley, Jr., of a potential leadoff single in the 11th and sophomore Christian Walker (2-for-5) followed with a single into center field to cause another pitching maneuver by UF. Junior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) came in for junior Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K) and Walker stole second base, went to third on a throwing error by Zunino and scored on an errant throw by senior center fielder Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) on the same play to give USC a 2-1 lead. Although junior Adam Matthews drew a one-out walk, Larson had senior Adrian Morales pop up to third base and struck out Williams. †

 

With the Gators down to their final three outs, Johnson opened the bottom of the inning with a single off redshirt sophomore closer Matt Price and junior Paul Wilson (Lakeland, Fla.) was inserted as a pinch runner. Adams laid down a bunt up the first-base line to push Wilson into scoring position and Price answered with a strikeout of Thompson before having Pigott ground out to pick up his 19th save and increase South Carolinaís NCAA Tournament winning streak to 15 games. Taylor improved to 8-1 with the victory and Maronde (0-1) was charged with the loss.

 

Randall struck out the first two batters of the contest, Wingo and Bradley, Jr., before Walker doubled down the right-field line. Until the two-out, two-bagger, Randall had set down the last 21-straight Gamecocks he had faced since March 26. Senior Brady Thomas hit a comebacker to the mound that the right-hander fielded and threw over to first base to end the frame.

 

After Wingo dropped a one-out pop-up in foul territory to extend the at bat, Smith (2-for-4) raised his hitting streak to 14 games with a single through the left side in the home part of the inning. Freshman Forrest Koumas had Tucker fly out to center field and Smith was caught attempting to steal second base to complete the stanza.

 

Morales reached on a leadoff error by Dent in the second, but Randall responded by setting down the next three batters. The righty caught Beary looking on strikes for his third K to finish the inning.

 

Dent delivered a sacrifice fly in the third inning that brought home Thompson to break the ice. Thompson had drawn a leadoff walk and moved to second on a grounder by Pigott. Koumas uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Thompson to third and Dent lofted his second sacrifice fly of season into left field to score his teammate. Dentís seventh RBI of the campaign was his fourth of the NCAA Tournament.

 

Randall had a stretch of eight-straight Gamecocks retired before Morales singled up the middle with two down in the fourth. The righty countered by having Williams fly out to center field to complete the fourth and put down USC in order in the fifth, including an inning-ending strikeout of sophomore Evan Marzilli for his fifth K. Through five innings, Randallís 15 outs were evenly distributed: five fly-outs, five groundouts and five strikeouts.

 

Johnson began the Gator fifth with a base-hit up the middle and was sacrificed into scoring position by Adams. Koumas worked out of the jam by having Thompson and Pigott each fly out.

 

After Randall notched his third 1-2-3 inning of the contest in the sixth, Koumas registered the first two outs in the bottom of the frame before Smith roped a single into left center for his second hit of the night. The Gamecocks called upon sophomore Tyler Webb to replace Koumas (5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 4 K, 1 BB) and Tucker scratched out an infield single for a pair of runners aboard. Webb had Zunino fly out to straightaway center field to strand the runners and keep his squad down by a run.

 

Mooney snapped a run of 10-consecutive USC hitters retired by Randall with a leadoff walk in the eighth and was sacrificed to second by Beary. A fly ball by Marzill moved Mooney over to third base and Wingo tied the game at a run apiece with an RBI single up the middle. Sophomore Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) replaced Randall (7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 6 K, 1 BB) and fanned Bradley, Jr. to preserve the stalemate. Smith drew a two-out walk from Webb in the home part of the inning and the reliever had a grounder by Tucker force Smith at second for the final out.

 

Rodriguez struck out Walker to start the ninth but then surrendered a single into left field by Thomas, who was replaced by pinch runner Matthews. Sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) took over for Rodriguez (0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K) and induced an inning-ending 6-3 double play by Morales.

 

Webb threw 2.1 scoreless innings and permitted just one hit before turning the game over to Taylor prior to UFís ninth. Zunino earned a free pass on a nine-pitch at bat to begin the inning and Johnson delivered a single into right field for runners on the corners. Adams was walked intentionally to load the bases and Taylor had a grounder by Thompson to second baseman Wingo force Zunino at home for the first out. Taylor had Pigott ground into an inning-ending 4-2-3 double play to send the game into extra innings.

 

Williams began the 10th with a single up the middle and Maddox had Mooney fly out to left field.† A base-hit into right center by Beary gave the Gamecocks two runners aboard and prompted a pitching change, as junior Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky,) replaced Maddox (1.0 IP, 2 H). The southpaw caught Marzilli looking on strikes and had a grounder by Wingo force Beary at second base to end the inning.

 

Dent started the Gatorsí 10th with a single through the right side of the infield and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.). Taylor had Smith fly out to left field and then walked Tucker intentionally to face Zunino. UFís catcher came through with a base-knock into left field but Williams fired a bullet to Beary at the plate, who tagged out a sliding Dent to force another frame, which wound up as the final one. †

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