Carolina pulled within one victory of an elusive national championship after routing UCLA 7-1 in game one of the best-of-three CWS Championship Series.
The man of the hour for Carolina was pitcher Blake Cooper. Blake (13-2) led the way, tossing eight masterful innings. He allowed only three singles and one walk, while striking out ten Bruins. John Taylor pitched the ninth for the Gamecocks.
Carolina was able to tee off on Bruin hard-thrower Gerrit Cole as well. USC got to Cole for six runs and eleven hits in six innings. Bobby Haney led the attack with two hits and three RBIs. Jackie Bradley, Christian Walker, and Evan Marzilli each added two hits as well.
USC raced out to a 5-0 lead in the third, thanks to some breakdowns in the field by the Bruins, and a big two-out, two run single by Bobby Haney. Haney struck again in the fifth with a sacrifice fly, pushing the lead to a comfortable 6-0. That was plenty for pitcher Cooper, who had handcuffed the Bruins all night.
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The Gamecocks had moved oh so close to a first National Championship in a major sport. Would they be able to finally push in the door? Only one win in the next two nights is all they needed.