OMAHA, NE (WIS) - The South Carolina Gamecocks took advantage of two throwing errors that led to the winning run and advanced to the Championship Series of the 2011 College World Series with a 3-2 13-inning walk-off win over the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The Gamecocks will face their SEC Eastern Division rival Florida Gators in the best-of-three Championship Series that gets underway on Monday. Game time is set for 8 p.m. ET and the contest will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Brady Thomas led off the bottom of the 13th with a solid single to center for the Gamecocks (53-14). Cody Winiarski, the fourth Cavalier pitcher of the evening, tried to nail pinch runner Adam Matthews at second base on Peter Mooney's bunt attempt, but threw wildly and both runners were safe. Robert Beary then laid down a sacrifice bunt that Winiarski threw past the third base bag and bounced out of play, allowing Matthews to scamper home with the winning run. The win sends the defending national champion Gamecocks to the Championship round for the second straight year.
Gamecock reliever Matt Price (7-3) pulled a Houdini act in escaping the top of the 13th inning, giving Carolina a chance for the win in the bottom of the frame. David Coleman opened the Virginia 13th with a leadoff walk off. Colin Harrison followed with a single to short. Keith Werman bunted for a base hit to load the bases with no outs. After a strikeout, John Barr lined out to second baseman Scott Wingo, who flipped to shortstop Mooney, doubling Harrington off second. Price threw 5.2 scoreless innings of relief, allowing seven hits and five walks with five strikeouts while throwing 95 pitches.
The Cavaliers (56-12) broke out in front with a run in the top of the second inning. Steven Proscia led off with a walk, moved to third on a single by Jared King and scored on a double play grounder by Kenny Swab.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as they jumped on Cavalier reliever Kyle Crockett. Christian Walker belted a one-out double to the right field wall. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a single to short and Adrian Morales was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Brady Thomas lofted a two-run double to left, giving Carolina its first lead of the game at 2-1.
The one-run lead held until the eighth inning when the Gamecock defense, which had been steady all season, betrayed them. Curtis Taylor reached on a throwing error by Morales to open the inning. After he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, John Hicks grounder scooted between the legs of Mooney for an error, scoring Taylor with the game-tying run.
The Gamecocks wasted a golden opportunity in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jake Williams singled to lead off the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Wingo was hit by a pitch and Walker walked on four pitches to load the bases. But Cavalier closer Branden Kline was able to strikeout both Bradley Jr. and Morales, ending the threat. The Gamecocks fanned a season-high 18 times on the evening.
Both teams had a chance to score in the 12th, as each team put runners on first and second with no outs, but in each instance, were unable to push across a run.
Both starting pitchers, the staff aces, were impressive. Carolina lefthander Michael Roth worked the first seven innings, allowing four hits and one run with two walks and three strikeouts.
Virginia southpaw hurler Danny Hultzen, the second player taken in the MLB draft earlier this month, was outstanding in his 3.0 innings of work before leaving the game due to illness. He fanned eight of the 10 batters he faced, while throwing 32 of 40 pitches for strikes.
Cavalier hurler Branden Kline was effective in relief, hurling 5.0 scoreless frames, allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts.
A stadium record crowd of 25,882 was on hand for Friday night's contest.