Gamecocks outlast Bruins, capture College World Series title
Omaha, NE (Sports Network) - Whit Merrifield's line drive found open real estate down the right-field line, plating the winning run in the bottom of the 11th frame, and giving South Carolina its first College World Series title with a 2-1 victory over UCLA.
Merrifield sliced a down-and-away offering from Dan Klein into no-man's land, scoring Scott Wingo with the winning run.
"In that situation you're trying to get a pitch elevated and trying to drive it deep into the outfield," Merrifield said. "I worked the count in my favor, got a fastball, even though it was down I got the barrel on it."
South Carolina swept the best-of-three championship series and won its second- ever national championship in any sport, joining the women's track and field team.
Wingo, the ninth batter in the order, worked a leadoff walk in the home 11th, advanced to second on a passed ball and third on a sacrifice bunt and scored the final run of the season, and the final run ever scored at historic Rosenblatt Stadium.
South Carolina lost its first game in its trip through the brackets then ran off 12 straight victories to eventually capture the title in its first championship series appearance since 2002.
Despite an 0-for-5 showing on Tuesday night, Gamecocks center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was selected as the College World Series Most Valuable Player.
UCLA was just five outs from forcing a winner-take-all Game 3 of this championship series mostly due to starting pitcher Rob Rasmussen, who battled nerves, control issues and South Carolina's red-hot bats over six frames.
The junior took the ball and navigated his way around six hits and four walks in six scoreless innings. South Carolina left a runner on second in the first, runners at second and third in the second, runners at the corners in the fifth and a runner at second in the sixth.
Yet, Rasmussen never relented, and the Bruins, making their first-ever appearance in the championship round, got their first and only run in the fifth frame. Trevor Brown singled, moved to second on a grounder to first and scored on Niko Gallego's single to left.
The Gamecocks scored the equalizer thanks to some shoddy Bruins defense in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Brady Thomas singled up the middle, then pinch-runner Robert Beary moved to second on a grounder and raced home to score when Bobby Haney's chopper to the right of first went off the glove of Dean Espy and deflected into shallow right field for an error.
Both teams failed to score in the ninth, setting up extra innings as each team's closer stretched well past their normal workload. Matt Price picked 2 2/3 effective frames, following in the footsteps of starter Michael Roth, who matched Rasmussen through five frames, allowing just the one run on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
The UCLA closer Klein got the loss, pitching 3 1/3 frames with four strikeouts and just one hit allowed -- Merrifield's championship-winner in the 11th.
"We just could not come up with the big hit," UCLA head coach John Savage said. "That was the story the last two nights."
06/30 01:51:57 ET