Gamecocks Advance To CWS Finals After 4-3 Win Over Clemson

June 27, 2010 – By Scott

Only 130 miles separate the campuses of South Carolina and Clemson. The two schools have met on the baseball field 292 times. But their meeting on Saturday could be deemed as one of the most important. Both the Gamecocks and Tigers were either one game away of going home or competing in the best of three series finals in the 2010 College World Series.

South Carolina will now move on to the championship after defeating Clemson 4-3. This is the Gamecocks second win in a row over the Tigers and have avoided elimination for the fourth straight time in this year’s CWS.

“A couple days ago we were down to one strike and planning a trip home,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “Now we’re going to have a chance to play for a national championship. That’s incredible. It’s a never-say-die team.”

The Gamecocks, who are three time national runners-up, did not get the best of Clemson during the regular season, losing two out of three times. But this time, Christian Walker was the difference maker in the game as he homered and singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, while making a huge defensive play at first to end the game.

Despite the loss, Clemson second baseman Mike Freeman said he will be rooting for their in-state rival South Carolina in the finals for various reasons.

“I don’t think it matters who we lose to to end our season,” second baseman Mike Freeman said. “We lost to a really good opponent, that’s the bottom line. Regardless of who it is, it’s never fun to lose. So it doesn’t make it any worse. They’re going to represent our region, represent our state well. All we can do now is cheer for them in the end and hope they bring it back for South Carolina.”

After battling back from a 4-3 loss to Oklahoma in their opener, the Gamecocks will play for it all as they face UCLA on Monday night in the first game. They then went on to beat Arizona State 4-3 and Oklahoma 3-2 in 12 innings which set up their Bracket 2 final with Clemson. They beat the Tigers 5-1 on Friday and got the win they needed on Saturday to advance. Now they have an opportunity to accomplish something the school has never done against UCLA.

“I said from the beginning it was nice to get to Omaha, but we wanted to do something here,” right fielder Whit Merrifield said. “We’re in position to do something this program never accomplished. We know we have to play well to beat UCLA, and we’re looking forward to two more big games and scrapping across two more big wins.”

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