South Carolina 5, Florida 2

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 • Attendance: 26,721 •  Box score • Hits tracker

Gamecocks capture 2nd straight CWS title

By South Carolina's standards, Tuesday night's national championship-clinching win over Florida was downright mundane.

The Gamecocks scored three runs in the third inning, tacked on a couple of more late and rode the standout pitching of Michael Roth and Matt Price to a 5-2 victory before a record 26,721 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.

The victory, South Carolina's 11th straight at the College World Series and 16th in a row in the NCAA tournament, came without the dramatics that had become the Gamecocks' trademark the past two seasons in Omaha. Four times they won in walk-off fashion, then prevented Florida from doing the same in Monday's opening game of the best-of-three championship series.

“It's really hard to understand,'' South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “So many things happened in the games that we've played, the extra-inning affairs, the bases loaded, the double plays.

“It seemed like every single time it went our way. You set things up to happen and you hope players can do it, but still there's got to be some luck involved.''

Still, good fortune can take a team only so far. To win back-to-back championships, a team needs players. They don't have to be the best, South Carolina second baseman Scott Wingo said, but they do need to have special qualities that separate them from others.

“Our talent might not be a bunch of first-rounders, but I'd play with these guys more than any other team,'' said Wingo, selected the CWS' outstanding player. “We don't give you one yard. We just go out there, make pitches and we got guys that play good defense.

“We're tough to beat.''

Downright impossible since they lost their first game in Omaha last June. The Gamecocks ripped off six straight victories to become the last team to celebrate a championship in Rosenblatt Stadium.

Their five wins this June allowed them to become the first CWS team to dog pile at the new downtown stadium.

“It's kind of simple when you look at it,'' Roth said. “You just have to win five games, but it's tough at the same time. We had to have a lot of things go right for us.

“We played some great baseball, but you have to have a little luck out there. And we're just glad we played a nine-inning game today.''

The Gamecocks' two previous wins came in 13 innings, against Virginia in last Friday's bracket championship game, and in 11 innings, in Monday's opening game of the championship series against their Southeastern Conference rival.

Roth had pitched superbly in his first two CWS starts against Texas A&M and Virginia but wound up with no-decisions. He got the title-game win with a gritty performance that saw him throw 127 pitches in 7-2/3 innings, limiting Florida to five hits and exiting to a standing ovation with a 4-1 lead.

Reliever John Taylor gave up an RBI single to Josh Adams to trim the lead to 4-2, leaving the Gamecocks to call on Price one last time. The hero of the 3-2 win over Virginia, when he threw a season-high 5-2/3 innings and worked out of three extra-innings, bases-loaded jams, needed just 15 pitches to wrap up this one.

He got pinch-hitter Tyler Thompson to look at strike three to end the eighth, then pitched a perfect ninth before disappearing beneath his dog-piling teammates just a bit left of the pitcher's mound.

South Carolina finished its championship season 55-14, while Florida, which was trying to win its first title, ended 53-19.

“They were a little better than us in all phases,'' Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “They pitched a little better. They hit a little better. They played a little better defense. They earned it.

“There's nothing more to be said other than that.''

South Carolina put the Gators in a 3-0 hole in the third inning, getting its first run on Wingo's sacrifice fly and adding two more after shortstop Nolan Fontana's fielding error extended the inning. Florida cut its deficit to 3-1 in the fourth on Mike Zunino's 19th homer.

Peter Mooney made it 4-1 when he drove his fourth homer of the season into the right-field bullpen. After Florida scored in the top of the eighth, South Carolina answered by scoring a final run on Wingo's RBI single.

All that was left after that was for Price to get the final three outs that made South Carolina the first school to win back-to-back titles since Oregon State in 2006 and 2007.

The Gamecocks returned a solid core from the team that walked away from Rosenblatt with the 2010 title. Tanner said he tried to keep his players from focusing too much on repeating, but that was a goal that the players kept front and center.

“At the beginning of the year, I said we finished the old one and let's try to open the new one up,'' Wingo said. “Coach didn't always think we'd get it, but I'm the type of guy that had the feeling we were going to do it.

“I kept thinking about Oregon State the whole year. I had a feeling we would get back and win this thing, and we did.''

— Steven Pivovar

More games played in 2011 CWS

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