Well, I’m out of rational explanations for this run the Gamecocks are on, so I guess Coach O’Connor’s quote about as scientific as we’re going to get.
They just find a way.
“The way” last night just happened to be a little more circuitous than normal, but I guess that makes the journey just a little more enjoyable, right?
Last night began with The Curious Case of Danny Hultzen. The number two pick in the recent Major League baseball draft came out of the gates channeling Sandy Koufax. The lefty went through our lineup with ease, striking out eight of the ten Gamecock batters he saw.
But somewhere beneath his 94 mph fastball and wicked slider a virus was working, causing Hultzen to puke between innings and look a little like the walking dead while he was on the mound. He was replaced to start the fourth.
Good on Brian O’Connor for not risking Hultzen’s first-round bonus money, but why the heck did he stay in the dugout the rest of the game? Why wasn’t he in the clubhouse lying down, getting an IV, purging his body of evil? He actually looked quite fresh around the sixth or seventh inning, and was even on the top step of the UVa dugout after Adam Matthews scored the winning run. Travis Haney speculated (on some speculation) that perhaps Hultzen was having some elbow discomfort, which for the kid’s sake I hope isn’t true. He has a chance to be spectacular.
In any case, the Gamecocks took advantage immediately and scored two runs off of reliever Danny Crockett. The two runs were a little lucky as Brady Thomas’ double was misplayed by the UVa left fielder. (Find a way, right?)
Crockett was money the rest of his four innings of work, and Michael Roth was Michael Roth, as usual.
The real fun began when John Taylor came in to pitch the 8th for the Gamecocks. An E5 put a runner on for the Cavs, and an uncharacteristic E6 by Peter Mooney allowed the Cavs to tie it up.
It was as this point the momentum shifted, and you started to feel like maybe our CWS magic was fading. As Matt Price’s pitch count grew, and we couldn’t find a clutch hit against Branden Kline (also spectacular) with runners is scoring position, I started to think ahead.
No way we could come back from a loss like this. UVa would walk over us Saturday night. Our pitching is screwed, our bats had gone silent, it was just a matter of time before the Cavs would push a run across. I started to reflect on the past year, and what a great ride it had been.
Then Matt Price wiggled out of bases loaded jam in the 12th with a 6-4-3 double play. After another scoreless frame for the Gamecocks, Price was back in the soup again in the 13th, this time a bases loaded jam with nobody out. It would be absolutely impossible to get out of this one.
Yet he did.
A strikeout followed by a liner to Wingo turned the absolutely impossible into reality, and as Mooney stepped on second I thought to myself, “OK, win NOW.”
And aided by two bizarre errors by the UVa pitcher, we did. I would have never guessed a single and two bunts would win if for us, but I guess the old script for this team was thown out a long time ago.
The new script is simply one page.
In the center of that page are the words “FIND A WAY”.