OMAHA, Neb. | Scott Wingo knew what he had to do.
The senior second baseman was standing on third base in the national championship game of the 2010 College World Series when he watched Whit Merrifield drive him home for the winning run.
Wingo's turn came in the opening game of this CWS, and he delivered his own dramatic, game-winning hit. By driving a ball off the right-field fence with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning, Wingo gave South Carolina a 5-4 victory against Texas A&M Sunday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
The hit, his career-high fourth on the night, came on a 1-2 pitch from reliever Nick Fleece. Wingo has shown a flair for the dramatic this season with walk-off hits against Georgia, Auburn and Arkansas.
"I was really trying to get the ball up in the air, and when I got two strikes on me, I just tried to battle. He threw me an inside fastball that I just got up," Wingo said. "I knew I needed to come up big there. I just tried to go up there and put a good swing on it."
The fourth-seeded Gamecocks (51-14) advance to the winners' bracket game at 7 p.m. Tuesday against top-seeded Virginia (55-10), which will serve as the home team. USC has won 12 postseason games in a row. Its seven consecutive CWS wins are the most since Oregon State in the 2006 and '07 seasons.
The opening win was USC coach Ray Tanner's first in his fifth trip to the College World Series.
"I'm happy to be sitting here (in the winning news conference)," Tanner said. "It's a very unusual feeling for me to be in Omaha and win the first game."
He was even happier with the way junior left-hander Michael Roth battled after a shaky first inning. Roth allowed four runs - all unearned after first baseman Christian Walker's error on the first play of the game - on two hits and two walks in the first inning. From there, he settled down to hold the Aggies scoreless over the 6 1/3 innings.
Roth finished with eight strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 0.97 before departing with one out in the eighth inning. Roth, who has thrown 37 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run dating to May 13, stated that he simply tried to collect himself and keep his team close.
"We had the last walk-off in Rosenblatt and the first one in the new stadium," Roth said. "That's pretty special."
Senior right-hander John Taylor took over for Roth, and closer Matt Price (6-3) relieved Taylor in the ninth, recording the final two outs for the win.
"We definitely didn't have a good chance," Texas A&M Rob Childress said. "Both guys came in and did what they've done all year along. Their bullpen was better than ours tonight, it was pretty evident."
Texas A&M (47-21) will play Cal (37-22) at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the losers' bracket.
The winning rally inning started with Robert Beary's double off reliever Kyle Martin (2-3). Jackie Bradley's single put runners on the corners, and Evan Marzilli's walk set the stage for Wingo.
Bradley, the Most Outstanding Player in the 2010 CWS, played in his first game since injuring his left wrist April 23 against Mississippi State. The junior returned to his usual spot in center, but he batted ninth for the first time in his career.
Marzilli also found his way into the lineup after struggling with hamstring issues the previous three days. He batted leadoff and played right field.
"It felt great to be back out there and just be able to help my team win," said Bradley, who went 1-for-4. "I feel good, and I'm getting more relaxed up there each at-bat."
Texas A&M right-hander Ross Stripling matched Roth after giving up four runs in the first inning, two unearned. He blanked the Gamecocks over the next seven innings, allowing a total of seven hits while walking one and striking out six.
The bizarre first inning took 29 minutes, prolonged in part by sloppy defense that led to six of the eight runs being unearned.
The Aggies struck first off Roth when Walker's error on Tyler Naquin's ground ball opened the door for the big inning. Jacob House's RBI single got the scoring started, and Brandon Wood's bases-loaded triple upped the lead to 4-0.
But the Gamecocks answered with a walk by Marzilli and consecutive singles by Wingo and Walker. A balk scored one run, and the next two scored when Texas A&M second baseman Andrew Collazo committed a throwing error on an Adrian Morales ground ball. Morales came home on Peter Mooney's infield single.
The teams traded zeroes for the next seven innings before USC found a way to win, something Tanner has watched his team do all season. He told the players in the middle of the first inning they had time to come back.
"You get accustomed to that," Tanner said. "And it doesn't guarantee you anything as far as winning is concerned, but what it does is give you that familiarity and experience that you're going to have an opportunity if you can hang in there and battle. We've been in these situations many times, and you just have to keep plugging."
Ray Tanner postgame
Michael Roth postgame
Scott Wingo postgame
Jackie Bradley Jr. postgame