OMAHA, NE (WIS) - Carolina and Clemson fans will have the baseball matchup they've been hoping for -- the Gamecocks beat Oklahoma 3-2 on Thursday night to advance to the Bracket 2 final round against the Tigers.
USC pitcher Blake Cooper, who started in Sunday's loss against the Sooners, was back on the mound with some pretty good stuff. He went 5 2/3 innings, struck out six and gave up only one run, and RBI single by Caleb Bushyhead in the second inning that made it 1-0.
Arkansas starter Zach Neal was also sharp, pitching seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. The Gamecocks (50-16) had the bases loaded in the fifth inning, but Neal got Adam Marzilli to foul out to end the inning.
In the eighth inning with runners on the corners, freshman Christian Walker got another big postseason hit to drive in Marzilli and tie it at 1.
It went to extra innings, and in the 11th with two on and two outs, Bobby Haney left 'em hanging as he grounded out to second. In the 12th inning, Tyler Ogle led off for the Sooners with a solo home run to right center, putting Oklahoma up 2-1.
Carolina pitcher Ethan Carter thought he gave up the game-winning hit, but he didn't count on Jackie Bradley, Jr., who went 0-5 Thursday night before hitting a single in the bottom of the 12th which drove in Robert Beary from second.
With Bradley on base and the score tied at 2, batter Brady Thomas followed up with a drive to center field which sent Bradley home and won the game 3-2.
Tyler Webb (3-2), the Gamecocks' sixth pitcher, got the win after relieving Carter. Sooner closer Ryan Duke (3-2) took the loss.
Carolina will play Clemson on Friday in the semi-finals. Because South Carolina already has one loss in the tournament while Clemson has none, the Gamecocks will have to beat Clemson twice in order to advance to the best-of-three finals. Clemson would only have to win once.
In 2002, South Carolina's baseball team had to beat rival Clemson twice to advance at the College World Series. The Gamecocks accomplished that, defeating the highly regarded Tigers before falling to Texas in the championship game.
Now, an undefeated Clemson again stands in the way for the Gamecocks, who must win twice if they hope to reach the best-of-three championship series.
Clemson took two of three games against South Carolina during the regular season.