UCLA player holding Merrifield's CWS game-winning ball hostage - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Fmr. UCLA player holding Merrifield's CWS game-winning ball hostage

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Whit Merrifield sends the ball into right field for the win (Source: USC) Whit Merrifield sends the ball into right field for the win (Source: USC)
The team celebrates after Merrifield's hit (Source: USC) The team celebrates after Merrifield's hit (Source: USC)
The team celebrates with the trophy and the spirit stick (Source: USC) The team celebrates with the trophy and the spirit stick (Source: USC)
Brett Krill (Source: UCLA) Brett Krill (Source: UCLA)

By Mandy Mitchell - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The ball that Whit Merrifield hit to clinch the Gamecocks' first national ever baseball championship is being held hostage, according to the former Gamecock standout.

The lobby at Carolina Stadium is home to many keepsakes from the College World Series such as the national championship trophy, Merrifield's uniform and the bat he used to make Gamecock history. But something is missing -- the ball from the game winning hit.

It was June 29, 2010, and USC and UCLA were locked in a 1-1 extra-inning tie at Rosenblatt Stadium. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Merrifield's single to right field sent Scott Wingo home to win it all for the Gamecocks. 

It's a hit USC fans will not soon forget, but where is the ball? Merrifield and other university officials thought the NCAA had it, but they were wrong. 

As soon as Wingo crossed the plate and the team erupted in celebration, the Gamecock equipment managers ran out on the field and grabbed the bat and Merrifield and Wingo's helmets, but not the ball.

Former UCLA right-fielder Brett Krill chased it down during the Gamecocks' celebration, and has had it ever since. "I heard shortly after the World Series that he had given it back to the NCAA," said Merrifield, who is currently at spring training out in Arizona with the Royals organization.

He heard about who really has the ball from former USC shortstop bobby Haney, who is a teammate of Brett krill in the San Francisco giants farm system. "Hopefully it's just a big misunderstanding and we can get in touch and talk face to face," said Merrifield.

Even though the former Gamecock's mind is now on his minor league baseball career in the Carolina League for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, he still wants to make sure the ball ends up in South Carolina.

But so far that hasn't happened. Krill will not return emails from Merrifield, and refuses to set up a meeting through Haney. UCLA Sports Information Director Alex Timaraos said UCLA has been trying to get the ball from Krill since July 2010, and the university is doing what it can to ensure it happens soon. "It is a special ball, but it's pretty ridiculous," said Merrifield. "I really don't know why he would want to keep it."

Ray Tanner has been in touch with UCLA, and hopes the situation is resolved. "I'm pursuing it now, and I think I've been keyed in to what's going on and I want to see if it's possible to get it back or if it should go to the NCAA," said Tanner.

A spokesman for USC has confirmed that someone representing Brett Krill called the university last summer seeking something of value for the baseball. UCLA says Krill has no intention of selling the ball for personal profit.

Merrifield says he will do what he can to get the ball for South Carolina. "It means so much for the school and the community, I figured it would be the right place for the Columbia to have it." said Merrifield. "It's special to me, being the one that hit it, but I think it means more to the school and the community. It shouldn't be behind some kid's couch in California."

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