It was not an easy road for South Carolina in the CWS as they lost their first game against Oklahoma. The Gamecocks didn’t let that loss vs. the Internet bookmaker odds stop them though as they went on to win six straight games including the last two against UCLA in the best-of-three series.
Internet bookmaker odds favored UCLA before the championship series began but it was South Carolina who handled the pressure. South Carolina routed UCLA in the first game of the series and they outlasted the Bruins in the second game, winning 2-1 in 11 innings. South Carolina pitcher Matt Price worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the ninth inning and gave up nothing in the 10th and the 11th. Price got the win as he allowed just one hit in 2 2/3 innings.
South Carolina was not able to score against UCLA until the eighth inning. The big play in that inning was an error by UCLA first baseman Dean Espy. That error cost UCLA as they gave up the tying run and it also cost them in extra innings. Espy punched the dugout wall after the half inning and had to come out of the game. UCLA had to reorganize their infield and the Bruins simply looked out of synch after the error. UCLA had their chances earlier in the game but they went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
South Carolina had finished second place three times at the College World Series but this was their first title. South Carolina had finished second in 1975, 1977 and 2002. The Gamecocks came from behind to win four games in this year’s NCAA Tournament including two games in Omaha. Tuesday’s game was the first title game to go to extra innings since 1970. Upsets have been a regular occurrence in the College World Series. In six of the last seven years, the ultimate champion was not a team seeded in the top eight. Top seeds have simply not done well recently in the CWS and that was the case again this year with the top seeds underperforming yet again.