U. South Carolina stays alive in College World Series

By Chris Bilko

U. South Carolina erased their hitting woes from Sunday’s rain-soaked loss in a big way.

Carolina defeated No. 1 Arizona State 11-4 Tuesday to eliminate the Sun Devils from the College World Series. USC scored eight runs in the second inning and never looked back.

The defeat of the Sun Devils by Carolina marked the first time since seeding began in 1999 that a No. 1 national seed lost its first two games in the College World Series.

Adrian Morales led off the second with a single, and the offense exploded from there. Scott Wingo scored Morales and Kyle Enders with a double down the line after coming up unsuccessful on two bunt attempts. Evan Marzilli and Whit Merrifield followed with two singles, but the inning wasn’t really broken open until Jackie Bradley Jr. blasted a home run over the center field fence.

“I just wanted to stay aggressive with baserunners on,” Bradley said. “I was actually just looking to drive him in. He made a great pitch, low and outside. I was just able to put a good swing on it. It was wind-assisted a little bit.”

Designated hitter Brady Thomas promptly singled after the homer, bringing Morales back to the plate. Morales, who took some criticism for swinging at the first pitch in the ninth inning on Sunday, banged a homer down the left field line that resulted in a resounding “ping” off the foul pole.

“I’m my biggest critic,” Morales said. “I felt it the worst, and I was down on myself for the whole night. I couldn’t sleep. I tried to bounce back and help the team win, and I was able to do that today.”

USC ended the second inning with eight runs on eight hits, one less than they had in the whole game on Sunday. But the Gamecocks weren’t done scoring. They added two more in the third and another in the eighth on a Merrifield dinger that landed in the second deck of the Rosenblatt Stadium.

“That second inning for us with eight runs and eight hits was the most we have had in one inning the entire season,” coach Ray Tanner said. “We don’t score runs like that very often. I’m proud of these guys.”

Sam Dyson, who started the game for Carolina, atoned for his poor outing against Coastal Carolina in the Super Regional. Dyson made it through seven and one third innings, only giving four earned runs and eight hits in process. A surprising stat was that Dyson only had four strikeouts in the inning.

“Sam Dyson was outstanding,” Tanner said. “If you look at his line score, it is impressive. The fact that he had only three or four strikeouts against those guys show how good that team is.”

Freshman closer Matt Price, who was not feeling well prior to the game, came in in the eighth inning to shutdown the Sun Devils. Price was once again faced with bases loaded, akin to the first Coastal Carolina game. The result ended up being the same as Price ended up striking out the last to batters to end the frame. The Sumter native went out again in the ninth to finish off the Devils, and drew two strikeouts from the top of the Arizona State order.

USC will face the loser of the Clemson-Oklahoma game. Tanner said that Blake Cooper, who only had 67 pitches Sunday, will be available to pitch in the elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m.

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