In honor of the 5-year anniversary of South Carolina’s 2010 baseball National Championship, TRC is briefly recapping each game of the magical postseason run. Today, South Carolina clinches a trip to the championship series with a second consecutive victory over Clemson.
Could you really top this given the circumstances? Our beloved Gamecocks rallying out of the loser’s bracket to win four consecutive elimination games and earn a spot in the National Championship series. And on top of that, TWICE beating Clemson, our hated rival, a team which only days earlier sat in the driver’s seat to earn that very same opportunity. It was heaven.
But, in contrast to the previous night, this time the Tigers didn’t go down without a significant fight.
In the bottom of the 7th, with two out, the score tied at 2-2 and a runner on third, the Tigers decided to walk hot-hitting Jackie Bradley to face freshman Christian Walker. Walker had already homered earlier in the game and was developing a penchant for clutch hitting, so it was obvious Jack Leggett felt he was choosing the lesser of two evils.
Walker came through, hitting a bullet into center field that scored Evan Marzilli. Adrian Morales followed with a two-out hit of his own, and the Gamecocks had a seemingly comfortable 4-2 lead with super-closer Matt Price on the mound.
But the Tigers pushed across a run in the top of the 8th after a brutal collision between Scott Wingo and Whit Merrifield delayed the game for five minutes. And then a bizarre series of events made this Gamecock fan briefly wonder if a not-to-be-named curse was actually real.
Price retired the first two batters in the top of the ninth on a strikeout and a groundout. One out from advancing to play for the National Championship, Clemson’s Mike Freeman lifted a fly ball down the left field line. Marzilli, an outstanding defender, looked like he had a play in foul territory. But as he ran over, he encountered the Rosenblatt bullpen mounds. And he tripped. And the ball hit the ground.
Then Freeman lined the next pitch into center field for a base hit. The tying run was on base, and the go-ahead run was in the batter’s box.
Fortunately the torturous mind-screw didn’t last long, as Jeff Schaus of Clemson swung at the very next pitch. It took a diving stop by first-baseman Walker, but he jumped up, stepped on first base, and the celebration was on. South Carolina was two games from a National Championship.
NEXT: CWS Game 7: One Step Closer