Adam Matthews' frustrating season got a shot in the arm Friday night when he scored the winning run that put the Gamecocks back in the national championship series.
Matthews started the year strong as an everyday outfielder but has been mostly out of the lineup since recovering from an April 16 hamstring injury against Vanderbilt. He struck out in his only World Series at-bat Tuesday against Virginia.
"To be able to produce on the field and to score the winning run is a really good pick-me-up for myself and for the team," Matthews said. "I'm glad to be able to finally contribute out there."
The junior from White Knoll High School was called on in the 13th inning of Friday night's game to pinch-run for senior Brady Thomas. He scored the game-winner as Virginia reliever Cody Winiarski made throwing errors on consecutive USC bunts.
Head coach Ray Tanner in the dugout told Matthews to be ready for a pinch-hit or pinch-run opportunity.
"I told him, 'You're probably going to be in there at some point.' I kept telling him, 'You're going to run for Brady.' Finally that situation came about, and he can run," Tanner said.
It was special for Tanner that Matthews was able to play a role in the victory.
"It speaks volumes about him," he said. "Here's a guy that played, didn't get to play, was hurt and now hasn't been able to get back in there. But he was ready to go help us win the game."
Matthews has appeared in about half of USC's 67 games, starting 29 of them. He was drafted earlier this month by the Baltimore Orioles in the 23rd round.
For now, he's taking his role with the Gamecocks one day at a time.
"We'll see what happens here on out. I'm going to accept my role. Hopefully I'll get some more chances," Matthews said. "It's hard to complain. We're playing for the national championship again."