Story by: Joshua Jurnovoy
One night after pulling off a thrilling 12th inning comeback against the Oklahoma Sooners to stave off elimination from the College World Series, the South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team will go up against their biggest rival, the Clemson Tigers, in their second elimination game in as many days.
The Gamecocks had their backs against the wall last night after Sooner catcher Tyler Ogle hit a solo home run in the top of the 12th inning to give the Sooners a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Gamecock outfielder Robert Berry led off with a single. Following an Evan Marzilli strikeout, Beary stole second before Whit Merrified strunk out for the second out.
Then, arguably the hottest bat in Omaha, Gamecock sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who was yet to get a hit in his first five trips to the plate in the game, tied the game with an RBI single to right field. Gamecock first baseman Christan Walker walked to advance Bradley Jr. to second. Then, Gamecock senior designated hitter Brady Thomas, who was also hitless in his previous five at-bats, singled to drive in Bradley Jr. to give the Gamecocks the win and keep their championship hopes alive for another day.
USC pitching coach Mark Calvi on tonight’s game with Clemson
Clemson associate head coach Tom Riginos on tonight’s game with USC
The Tigers, on the other hand, had a relatively uneventful day yesterday. After a short practice, the team took a trip to the Omaha Zoo and rested for the remainder of the day.
Earlier today, the Tigers announced their starter for tonight’s game, freshman right-hander Dominic Leone. Leone pitched just over an inning of relief Tuesday for the Tigers in the continuation of their game against the Sooners. In his last start he went 5 and 2/3 innings, giving up just one unearned run and five hits against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Tigers’ super regional. Leone is 3-1 on the season with a 4.53 ERA.
Leone will try and shut down a Gamecock lineup that has been hot as of late. While they only scored three runs last night, they are riding the momentum of their comeback win. Bradley’s game tying single extended his hitting streak to 19 games. It was his sixth hit and seventh RBI in the College World Series.
The Gamecocks will send sophomore lefty Michael Roth to the mound tonight. Roth is 1-1 with a 1.37 ERA this season. Tonight will be his 35th appearance of the season but just his first start. Roth pitched an inning and a third in the Gamecocks’ win last night, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out one batter.
The scenario the Tigers and Gamecocks find themselves in mirrors that of the 2002 College World Series. In, 2002 the Tigers won their first two games while the Gamecocks found themselves in the losers’ bracket. The Gamecocks won their next two games against Nebraska and Georgia Tech, and then needed to beat the Tigers twice to make it to the Finals. They did so, beating the Tigers 12-4 and 10-2, before losing to the Texas Longhorns in the championship game.
In the teams’ only series this season, the Tigers took two of three games.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 9:00pm eastern time.