June 13, 2010
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – South Carolina’s Christian Walker slammed a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Gamecocks (48-15) a 10-9 advantage and eventual same score win over Coastal Carolina (55-10) in the second game of the 2010 Myrtle Beach NCAA Baseball Super Regional on Sunday, June 13, at BB&T Coastal Field. South Carolina will head to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., and face the winner of the Virginia/Oklahoma series.
Junior Cody Wheeler started for the Chanticleers, throwing 3.2 innings with five runs (three earned) allowed on eight hits. Ryan Connolly, Matt Laney and Austin Fleet all came in to pitch in relief. Fleet (6-2) took the loss and allowed three runs in 2.1 innings of work. South Carolina’s Sam Dyson started on the mound for the Gamecocks, but was relieved after 1.1 innings of work, allowing four runs on four hits. The South Carolina bullpen went to work, throwing six pitchers with Ethan Carter (3-0) earning the win for the Gamecocks and Matt Price recording his 10th save.
Coastal Carolina struck first in the opening inning when senior Rico Noel hit the game’s first home run to left field.
South Carolina took the lead back in the bottom of the first with two runs. Evan Marzilli started it off with a lead off double to left center field. Whit Merrifield followed with a single to the shortstop and advanced to second on a throwing error, sending Merrifield across the plate to tie the game at 1-1. Jackie Bradley Jr., brought in the final run of the inning with a double to left field, scoring Merrifield.
The Chanticleers regained the advantage in the top of the second, scoring four runs to take a 5-2 advantage. Taylor Motter tied the game up at two with a solo home run to left field with one out. Daniel Bowman followed with a double to left and Rich Witten drove him home on a single to left field. With two outs, Scott Woodward reached base after being hit by a pitch and Noel loaded the bases with a walk. Tommy LaStella then drove in Witten and Woodward on a single to left field.
The Gamecocks tied the game at 5-5 in the third inning with a three spot. With two outs, Adrian Morales drew a walk. Walker then reached first on a fielding error at third to put runners at first and second. Adam Matthews doubled to left field to score Morales. A fielding error by the left fielder advanced Matthews to third and sent Walker home.
Coastal regained the lead for the third time in the top of the fourth frame after South Carolina walked in a run. Witten started the inning with a single to center field and Adam Rice laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance him to second. Noel was hit by a pitch and LaStella drew a walk to load the bases for the Chants. Jose Iglesias drew a second straight walk to give Coastal a one run lead at 6-5.
The Chanticleers added an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Rice led off the inning with a single to left and Woodward advanced him to second on a sacrifice bunt. LaStella drove in his third run of the game with a single to right field to score Rice.
South Carolina tied the game again in the bottom of the sixth, bringing across two runs. Bobby Haney drew a lead off walk and Nick Ebert, who pinch hit for Evan Marzilli, singled to right center field, sending Haney across the plate. Robert Beary came in to pinch run for Ebert and reached second on a failed pickoff attempt. Merrifield advanced Beary to third on a ground out. A throwing error at third followed to score Beary and tie the game at seven.
Coastal answered back in the seventh frame, taking a one-run lead off a Bowman dinger to left field.
The Chanticleers put another run on the board in the top of the eighth. Woodward starting things off with a single through the right side and recorded his 55th stolen base of the season. The Gamecocks intentionally walked LaStella. Iglesias then singled to left field to score Woodward.
South Carolina regained the lead for the final time in the bottom of the eighth with a three-run homer by Walker to left field, scoring Jackie Bradley Jr., who walked, and Morales, who doubled to left field.
LaStella went 2-for-2 at the plate and recorded three RBIs for the Chanticleers, while Haney went 3-for-3 and Walker drove in three runs for South Carolina.
South Carolina Head Coach Ray Tanner’s opening statment
“Really I am at a loss for words. It was two days of great baseball between two teams that didn’t want to lose. We found a way to come with some big runs today. I am very happy for my players, coaches and fans that fought their way in to support us here. With that being said I have the utmost respect for Coach Gilmore and his team. That is certainly one of the better teams that we play the entire season and we play in great conference. We are very fortunate. We kept fighting and they kept fighting and we were just one run better two days in a row.”
South Carolina’s Christian Walker on being the hero back home
“I will try to just catch up on my sleep and stay out of the heat for a while.”
Christian Walker on the three-run home run
“It was almost the same situation in the previous at bat when I struck out. He had me in the hole with sliders and then came after me with the fastball. I was thinking fastball and be ready for the slider and he threw me the slider.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. on starting the game-winning rally after the double play.
“You have to move on. I try to have a great approach when I come to the plate no matter what happens before my at bat.
Christian Walker on thoughts prior to three-run home run
“It was in the back of my head, but I knew I didn’t have to do it because you need to go up there with the confidence that someone in the lineup behind you is going to pick you up. “
Walker on his trip around the bases.
“It was definitely one of the better jogs I have taken in my life. I just made sure I was touching all the bases. I didn’t want to mess that one up.”
Bradley on making the trip to Omaha
“It is great for the program to be going back and we will see what happens when we get there.”
Adrian Morales on his at bat after Bradley reached base with a walk
“I was looking fastball and he threw me a fastball that I was able to hit for a double. Coach Tanner told me in the on-deck circle that I needed to get on base to allow Walker to hit his three-run home run. I knew he didn’t want to walk me so I was just looking fastball.”
Bradley on how good Coastal Carolina is
“This team can definitely compete in the Southeastern Conference. They are a great team.”
Morales on his first meal when he gets to Omaha.
“I have never been there before so I’ll probably just order a pizza.”
Ray Tanner on how this is different than his previous trips to Omaha.
“One of the mistakes I made earlier in my career with going to Omaha three-straight years. You are not supposed to do that. It would have been better to spread them out. I have been reminded often that it is time to get back since we last went. It feels good. This team has battled. I know that we are one of the better teams in the country. At least on paper we are one of the top eight. This team is one that likes to win and have put the team first throughout the season. They fight to the final out.”
On what he told Adrian Morales before his last at bat.
“You need to have a quality at bat. We can’t get a three-run home run if you aren’t on base. I told him just to get on base and see what happens here.”
Tanner in closing out his press conference
“I was very impressed with the way Coastal Carolina hosted us here. The staff that they had was great. Their staff was friendly and courteous to us. I thought it was a great atmosphere and they did everything they could to run a first-class event. I just wanted to say that it was an outstanding experience.”
Coastal Carolina infielder Tommy La Stella
“Absolutely, we thought we had that game won and to lose in that fashion is devastating for our whole program and our fans.”
Coastal Carolina catcher Jose Iglesias
Do you feel like you gave the game away
“No I don’t feel like we gave it away. We battled all nine innings and they just capitalized on one mistake and took the lead on one spring. You have to tip their hat to them. I give South Carolina all the credit in the world they came back and beat us.”
His three years experience at Coastal
“It’s been an unbelievable experience. There aren’t many people in the country that can say they’ve been to two Super Regional’s, hosted a Super Regional and been a national seed. I love playing with all of my teammates, it’s been an honor to play for Coach Gilmore and one thing I can say is we gave it everything we had.”
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Gary Gilmore
“This is the best team I’ve ever coached. They had as much if not more character than any team I’ve ever coached. The difference between the BCS schools and schools like ours is the depth on down to the very end. Yesterday, we knew we were up against it. Not being able to throw Cody Wheeler or Anthony Meo. We lose our guy in the first inning and we had to zap the whole bullpen. It’s very difficult to recycle everybody; you know Wheeler had to pitch as much as he could today and we had to exhaust the bullpen. I had to ask Austin Fleet to try to do three, we just don’t have people. I give them all the credit in the world. They just keep coming at you. We exhausted the whole thing, the difference between this and the Regional we got a couple really good allies with Wheeler going the difference in the first game and a few guys pick us up in different spots, and we were able to get make it through that. Here, we were up against that from the get-go because of what it took to get here and they took advantage, they are very good. I’m so proud of our kids and I’m proud of the way we played today. We put ourselves in position to win, but it just wasn’t in the cards.”
On the five errors:
“It was probably the difference in the game. The extra outs and extra things we had to do. It was uncharacteristic for us, but today we had two or three blunders in the infield that usually we haven’t had issues with. Just trying too hard, I don’t know you can’t put a finger on that; it’s just one of the things that happen. Their stellar defense in my mind was probably the difference today.”
Is this the toughest loss of your career?
“No doubt. When you have this group of people and your own kid is in that mix, I don’t know if Omaha has been as far away as it feels at this minute. I think its 1,312, but I feel like I’m going the other direction, it’s frustrating. They just outlasted us, and yesterday the ball bounced their way.”