Ending chapter reads as classic for SC, stadium
Posted: Thursday, July 1, 2010 6:09 am
By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — South Carolina closed out the final College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium with its first baseball title and big-time bragging rights.
“To be the last team to win it here,” winning pitcher Matt Price said, “that’s amazing.”
The Gamecocks provided the perfect send-off for the stadium that has been home to college baseball’s biggest event since 1950 with a 2-1 victory over UCLA in 11 innings Tuesday night. The CWS moves to a new stadium in downtown Omaha next year.
“It dawned on me, it would be wonderful to go deep into this thing and be around at the end,” coach Ray Tanner recalled thinking when the CWS began nearly two weeks ago. “I know the new stadium will be very special and a great facility.
“But this is history. And we’ll be a part of the College World Series and Rosenblatt for a long, long time.”
Not only because they won it, but how the Gamecocks accomplished it. South Carolina (54-16) trailed in the middle innings of all three of its NCAA regional games and had to win two one-run games in the super regionals to make it to the College World Series.
Once they got to Omaha, the Gamecocks lost their first game and had to stave off elimination four times to reach the finals, even winning one game after being down to their last strike.
In a fitting end to a fantastic season, South Carolina came from behind again Tuesday night, tying the game in the eighth inning and beating UCLA (51-17) in the 11th on Whit Merrifield’s RBI single.
“It’s just a great run,” Tanner said. “You have to have a lot of things happen for you and you have to have the right kind of people around you. But it’s not impossible to be sitting where we are. But the odds are against you being here. No matter how good your program is, there are a lot of great programs out there.”
The Gamecocks won six straight games after losing their CWS opener against Oklahoma, and became the third first-time champion since 2006 after sweeping the best-of-three series.
Each team had plenty of scoring chances, but had difficulty converting in Rosenblatt’s finale. A video tribute to the stadium, fireworks and a trumpeter playing a slow version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” finished Rosenblatt’s 61-year run.
It was the fifth championship decided in an extra-inning final, and first since Southern California topped Florida State — also 2-1 — in 15 innings in 1970.
“You start in February with 300 teams and you get a chance to go to postseason, and maybe to a super regional, and then you have things go right for you and you go to Omaha,” Tanner said. “And you get to play in the national championship series. And you’re the last team standing. Just a wonderful, wonderful time for our players and coaches.”
Published in The Messenger 6.30.10