OMAHA, NE (WIS) - The Gamecocks opened up play in the College World Series Sunday night. Their first opponent was Texas A&M.
Scott Wingo's bases loaded RBI single off the base of the right field wall in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted South Carolina to a 5-4 victory over Texas A&M (47-21) on day two of the 2011 College World Series. The Gamecocks are 51-14 and advance to the winner's bracket of the CWS to face top seeded Virginia on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNHD and ESPN3.com as well as the Gamecock Radio Network including flagship station 107.5 FM "The Game" in Columbia.
Wingo, who had a career-high four hits on the night and reached base all five times, knocked a 2-2 pitch from Texas A&M reliever Nick Fleece with no outs and the bases loaded to lift Carolina to the one-run victory. Wingo's walk-off hit was his fourth of the season as well, with previous walk-off hits vs. Georgia, Auburn and Arkansas. The inning began with a double by Robert Beary off the right field wall that just missed a home run and was followed up by a base hit by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a walk to Evan Marzilli to set the stage for Wingo's heroics.
"I just saw they brought an outfielder in and I was really trying to get the ball in the air," said Wingo. "When I got two strikes on me, I just tried to battle and I think he threw me an inside fastball I just got it up.
Gamecock reliever Matt Price earned the win after retiring a pair of batters in the ninth inning. He is now 6-3 for the year. Texas A&M reliever Kyle Martin suffered the loss and is 2-3 for the season. He allowed the leadoff double to Beary in the ninth, the lone batter he faced.
Both starters competed strong in the CWS opener for both squads as Gamecock junior left-hander Michael Roth and Texas A&M junior right-hander Ross Stripling kept matching zeroes after zeroes after both teams took advantage of a pair of errors to score four runs apiece in the first inning. After allowing three hits in the first two innings, Roth would allow just one hit the rest of the way as he went 7.1 innings and struck out eight batters while walking five. All four runs yielded by Roth were unearned. He has a streak of 37.1 innings dating back to his May 13 start vs. Arkansas without allowing an earned run, that is five consecutive starts for Roth in that span. His season ERA is now 0.97. Stripling went eight innings for Texas and allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits with six strikeouts and a walk in a no-decision for the Aggies.
"It was a great college baseball game," said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. "Going into the first inning tonight, I have to admit that I had been paying attention to the other games and the other pitchers; it appeared that all four games to being the College World Series, every pitcher seemed to scuffle a little bit in the first inning. Roth had to get in the battle ode and they had the four-spot and we came back and battled our way back into it with a four-spot. Roth did what he's accustomed to doing for us. He gave us a chance to win.
Texas A&M got on board first with four unearned runs in the top of the first inning. Tyler Naquin reached base to lead off the game on a fielding error by Gamecock first baseman Christian Walker. A one-out walk to Matt Juengel gave A&M a pair of runners and TAMU would score their first run on a RBI single up the middle courtesy of Jacob House. After Kevin Gonzales loaded the bases on a two-out walk, the Aggies plated home three runs on a three-run triple off the bat of Brandon Wood down the right field line.
The Gamecocks however answered and tied it up at 4-4 in the bottom half of the first. Marzilli had a leadoff walk followed by a single to Scott Wingo and a base hit by Christian Walker that loaded the bases for no outs. After Stripling balked in Marzilli for a run, Adrian Morales knocked in a run on a grounder to second baseman Andrew Collazo, who threw high to first base allowing both Wingo and Walker to score and advancing Morales to second base. With two outs and Morales on third base, Peter Mooney laced a RBI single through the right side that tied the game up.
South Carolina finished with 10 hits on the evening to just four for Texas A&M. Along with four from Wingo, the Gamecocks also got a 2-for-4 day from Beary.
South Carolina has had the last three walk-off wins in the MCWS dating back to last season and the Gamecocks have won its last nine MCWS games dating back to last year. Junior outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made his first start since April 23 following a wrist injury, his first start in 26 games. Wingo is now 13-for-21 in the last five games in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina is 51-1 when tied or leading after eight innings this season and improves to 21-1 when scoring in the first inning. The Gamecocks are now 11-3 on the year in one-run games and 41-3 when out-hitting its opponent.
Their next opponent will be the number one seed, Virginia. They'll play Tuesday, starting at 7:00 p.m.