I don’t need to see the video to hear that sound in my head. That pre-BBCOR bat sound. That beautiful sound that meant Whit Merrifield had made solid contact on a 2-0 pitch with the winning run on third. The sound that signified something very good had happened.
“Line drive right field base hit!”
I let out some unintelligible sound, something between a “YEAHHHH!” and an “AHHHHHH!”
“South Carolina wins the College World Series!”
I stood there with with my hands on my head, silent. I didn’t cry, but there were definitely tears in my eyes as I watched the celebration unfold.
It was the most stressful sporting event I’ve ever watched, knowing how important one measley run was for the entire game. Both pitching staffs throwing like the fate of the free world was at stake.
For the Gamecocks it was Roth, Mata, Webb, and Taylor combining to limit UCLA to one run over 8 1/3 innings. Then it was Matt Price for the final 2 2/3.
My God, Matt Price. Will we ever see anything like him again? The dominance. The escapes. The primal screams. Then the look. That look like he was pissed off he didn’t get three outs on nine swinging strikes.
But Gamecock fans might not remember that Dan Klein of the Bruins was just as good, going 3 1/3 innings, allowing only one hit – the hit that ended the game.
UCLA could’ve played that final inning by the book. They could’ve walked Merrifield and Jackie Bradley to face Christian Walker and set up a double play. But they decided going after Merrifield was their best bet.
Merrifield said when he saw the catcher squat down, he realized they were pitching to him. He said at that point he had something to prove.
I remember having a strange thought just then. I thought “don’t end this on something stupid”, like a passed ball or an error. I knew the result would be the same, but I wanted us to win it, not them to lose it. I wanted nothing less than a solid base hit we could always remember.