Scott Wingo scored the final run of the 2010 season to give the South Carolina baseball team its first national championship. Friday afternoon at Carolina Stadium, the senior second baseman scored the first run of the 2011 season.
That run got the Gamecocks off to a good start in defense of their title, giving them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on the way to a 12-5 victory over Santa Clara before a capacity crowd of 8,242.
Wingo scored on Jackie Bradley’s single to give USC a 1-0 lead. Bradley, an All-American junior center fielder, picked up where he left off last season, when he won the Most Outstanding Player award at the College World Series. He had four hits, including a two-run homer in the fifth, two doubles, one walk and three RBIs.
“I’m not surprised, because he is a good player,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “But even the great ones in this game still make outs. He didn’t make an out today, and he was up there in some tough situations. That’s what you want. He came up in some critical times and delivered. It was a special game for him opening up today.”
Bradley was as happy about the victory as the four hits.
“I was just trying to see my pitches and don’t miss. It was a great day,” he said. “We all came out and played the game the right way and got a win out of it.”
Wingo played well, too, picking up three hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth and a leadoff double in the third.
Junior left-hander Michael Roth, another of USC’s CWS heroes, picked up the win with a solid starting effort. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out a career-high six batters over 52/3 innings. Tanner cited the poise of Roth — someone whom he believed would not be distracted by the pregame hoopla — as a big reason the crafty lefty earned the start.
Roth, who used his patented off-speed stuff to keep Santa Clara hitters off-balance, was thrilled by the show of confidence in him by his coach.
“It really was an honor to pitch today with all the festivities,” he said. “It was a special moment for me and for everyone involved.”
USC built a 6-2 lead before the Broncos made the home folks nervous with three runs on six consecutive one-out hits off reliever Steven Neff in the eighth inning to cut the lead to one run. But senior right-hander John Taylor came on to induce a double-play ground ball with the bases loaded.
“That double play gave us some momentum,” USC first baseman Christian Walker said.
The Gamecocks answered with six runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Bradley’s double after an 11-pitch at-bat, Walker’s three-run homer and Wingo’s two-run blast. Santa Clara coach Mark O’Brien liked that his team showed some resilience.
“We battled back pretty well. But the guy (Taylor) made a good pitch and turned a nice double play, and that was it,” O’Brien said. “I was proud of our team, but they (the Gamecocks) get after it. They’re a very good team.”
The Gamecocks pounded out 13 hits, which included five doubles and three homers. Except for Neff’s shaky inning, five pitchers combined to strike out 10.
“It was different because of the pregame. Part of opening day was a celebration of the past, and sometimes that can be difficult. It concerned me a little bit,” Tanner said. “We talked about it, and I thought our guys came out and played well early. It was a good game for us and a good win.”
Nobody played better than Bradley, who led the team in average, homers and RBIs last season. But like the rest of his team, he’s not feeling the heat of the spotlight.
“(There’s) no pressure at all. I just want to come out there and help the team as much as possible. I want to be myself. That’s all I really can be,” Bradley said. “I’m not going to try to overdo anything. I’m just trying to have fun and put the bat on the ball.”
And in the end, the Gamecocks had the same kind of fun to start this season as they did to end the previous one.
Opening Day sights, sounds
|OZANNE M cf||4||1||1||0||1||2||4||0||0|
|SIMON B p||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||5||0||0||0||1||0||0||3||3|
|Adam Matthews rf||2||3||1||0||2||0||1||0||0|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||4||3||4||3||1||0||1||0||0|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||1||2||3||1||0||13||0||1|
|Brady Thomas c||3||2||1||1||2||1||7||1||2|
|Dante Rosenberg c||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Adrian Morales 3b||3||1||1||1||1||1||0||5||0|
|Evan Marzilli lf||3||0||1||1||1||0||1||0||3|
|Robert Beary dh||4||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1|
|Scott Wingo 2b||5||2||3||2||0||0||2||3||0|
|Michael Roth p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Steven Neff p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Alex Burrell p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Patrick Sullivan p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - Bradley Jr.(1); Morales(1). DP - S. Carolina 1. LOB - SCU 8; S. Carolina 10. 2B - OZANNE M(1); Bradley Jr. 2(2); Morales(1); Marzilli(1); Wingo(1). HR - Bradley Jr.(1); Walker(1); Wingo(1). HBP - WAGNER; Morales. SH - Matthews(1); Marzilli(1). SF - Beary(1).
|SIMON B L,0-1||5.2||10||5||5||3||2||0||0||0||0||25||29||8||6||100|
|Michael Roth W,1-0||5.2||4||2||2||1||6||0||0||0||0||22||23||3||8||80|
Win - Roth (1-0). Loss - SIMON B (0-1). Save - None. HBP - by TWINING (Morales); by Burrell (WAGNER). PB - PERRY(1). Pitches/strikes: SIMON B 100/60; DEERING 9/2; SMITH 10/2; SUPPLE 31/19; TWINING 12/8; Roth 80/55; Neff 33/23; Taylor 18/10; Burrell 1/0; Sullivan 3/3.
Umpires - HP: Richie Tallent 1B: Randy Hoback 2B: Barry Chambers 3B: Mike
Start: 3:04 pm