South Carolina starter Blake Cooper dominated UCLA and the Gamecock offense followed suit, capturing a 7-1 win over the Bruins in the first game of the College World Series championship finals on Monday night at Rosenblatt Stadium. The two teams will square off again on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT with South Carolina playing for its first national title.
Cooper (13-2) matched a CWS finals record with 10 strikeouts as he tossed eight innings of three-hit ball and didn’t walk a batter until the ninth. The righty held the Bruins hitless through 4.1 innings and blanked UCLA through eight before giving up a run on two hits in the ninth. The South Carolina pitching staff has now held its last four opponents to three runs or less.
The entire South Carolina offense got in on the action as well, with all 10 Gamecocks that came to the plate getting at least one hit, led by shortstop Bobby Haney’s 2-for-3, three-RBI performance. The USC offense roughed up UCLA starter Gerrit Cole (11-4) for six runs, four of them earned, on 11 hits, the most he has given up in 33 career starts. It also marked the most hits allowed by one pitcher in a game of the CWS finals.
USC post game press conference
UCLA post game press conference
South Carolina struck first in the opening frame with a pair of runs. Centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. laid down a two-out bunt and beat the throw for a base hit. First baseman Christian Walker moved Bradley to third with a bloop single to right-center and designated hitter Brady Thomas’ check-swing single fell just inside the leftfield line to plate Bradley. It looked like the Bruins would get out of the inning with a routine grounder, but UCLA second baseman Cody Regis booted the ball, allowing Walker to score for the 2-0 lead.
The Gamecocks added to their lead in each of the next two innings, scoring one in the second and two in the third to go up 5-0. Second baseman Scott Wingo tripled then scored on leftfielder Evan Marzilli’s base hit to right field in the second. In the third, South Carolina loaded the bases before Haney’s rightfield single drove in a pair of runs.
Haney’s sacrifice fly in the fifth and rightfielder Whit Merrifield’s RBI-single in the eighth tacked on two more insurance runs for the Gamecocks, widening the lead to 7-0.
After UCLA got its first hit in the fifth, Cooper retired 11 in a row before giving up a leadoff single in the ninth. The Bruins loaded the bases and scored their lone run on a double play before a fly ball ended the game.