Deja vu! Carolina did it to Clemson again, beating the Tigers twice in a row sending them home from Omaha. As a bonus, Carolina advanced to play in the College World Series best-of-three championship.
Just as in 2002, the Gamecocks had to defeat the Tigers twice, while Clemson had to win only one. The Gamecocks did it again, winning the opener yesterday 5-1, and then pulled out a hard-fought 4-3 victory today in the second game. It would be the fourth chance at a national championship for USC. They came up short in 1975, 1977 and 2002.
The big hits in this game came from big freshman 1B Christian Walker. Walker gave Carolina a 2-1 lead in the fourth with his third homer of the post-season. He struck again in the seventh with an RBI single pushing USC ahead again 3-2. Appropriately Christian recorded the final out in the ninth as well when he smothered the hard hit ball by Jeff Schaus, and stepped on first base.
Pitcher Sam Dyson gave a nice effort, even though he was pitching on only three days’ rest. Dyson pitched into the seventh inning, leaving with the game tied at 2.Closer Matt Price picked up the victory in the game, pitching the final 2 1/3 innings in relief. Price allowed one run in the eighth, cutting USC’s lead to 4-3 when a blooper to right turned into a fluky triple after an OF collision. He retired the Tigers one-two-three in the ninth to end it.
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Unlike in its three previous trips to the CWS championship game (one game only), this time it was a best-of-three series. It was UCLA that now stood between South Carolina and its first ever national championship in any major sport. Would the monkey finally be lifted?