Story by: Joshua Jurnovoy
The South Carolina Gamecocks and Oklahoma Sooners will play tonight at the College World Series for the second time in five days; only this time, the stakes are much higher.
The Sooners defeated the Gamecocks on Sunday 4-3 in the opening round game of the College World Series. The winner of tonight’s game will earn the right to try and beat the Clemson Tigers twice to advance to the Finals. The loser will be eliminated from the tournament. The Sooners are coming off of a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Tigers, a game in which the last three innnigs were forced to be played yesterday due to rain on Tuesday. The Gamecocks are fresh off of the one the most dominant performances of the College World Series to this point, defeating the number one seeded Arizona State Sun Devils, 11-4, on Tuesday.
USC will send senior right-handed pitcher Blake Cooper to the mound. Cooper is 12-2 with a 2.92 ERA this season. In the opening round game against the Sooners he went five inning, giving up six hits and three runs while striking out five. He will be faced with the task of shutting down the Sooner offense led by third baseman Garrett Buechele. Buechele, who has 17 homers and 65 RBIs on the season, was just 1-4 in the opening round game.
USC pitching coach Mark Calvi on decision to start Cooper tonight:
Junior right hander Zach Neal will get the start for the Sooners. Lee is 8-3 on the season with and ERA of 4.65. In his last start, a Super Regional game against the Virginia Cavaliers, Neal lasted just three innings while giving up four runs.
He will have to do something tonight that not too many pitcher have been successful in doing lately, slow down the Gamecock offense. The Gamecocks have scored at least nine runs in five of their last seven games. Their offense has been powered by sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley Jr. is currently riding an 18-game hitting streak is and is 5-for-9 with six RBI, three runs scored and two homers since arriving in Omaha.
The game can be seen at 7:00 on ESPN.