The South Carolina Gamecocks raced out to a 10-0 lead after three innings to cruise to a 11-4 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils in an elimination game at the College World Series.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the second inning where the Gamecocks offense exploded for eight runs with the big hits being a Jackie Bradley Jr. three run homer and Adrian Morales two run homer off the left field foul pole. They added two runs in the third inning as Jackie Bradley was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded while Christian Walker got a bases loaded walk to give University of South Carolina the 10-0 lead.
Arizona State bounced back in the fifth inning with two runs on back to back RBI singles from Austin Barnes and Drew Maggi to cut the South Carolina lead down to eight runs. They would make it 10-4 in the eighth inning when they scored two runs but would leave the bases loaded as Matt Price would strikeout Austin Barnes and Drew Maggi to end the frame.
In the bottom of the inning, South Carolina left fielder Whit Merrifield hit a towering homer into the left field bleachers would hit the second to last row of the upper deck to expand the lead to 11-4 where it would end as Arizona State failed to score in the top of the ninth inning.
Arizona State starting pitcher Merrill Kelly was a disaster on the mound as he lasted only 1.2 innings while giving up 10 hits, eight runs, while only striking out three batters. The interesting stat is that he only faced 15 batters while retiring only five of them. His record drops to 10-3.
Coach Tim Esmay stated the following about Kelly not having it today:
Well, I wouldn’t say he didn’t have it. They had a couple of balls that hit some Seeing Eye and then boom, their guys their big players show up in big games, and their guys took some good swings and finished off some ABs.
So Merrill Kelly has been great all year. And Merrill Kelly was a big part of us being in this game today and getting us here. And I felt like he was pitching his tail off.
And we had a couple of things get through, and then, boom, they take advantage of it. And it’s as cliche, as they say, that’s baseball.
Mitchell Lambson was effective in relief as he pitched 4.1 innings while striking out four batters and giving up only two hits and two runs. Jordan Swagerty pitched the final two innings allowing two hits and one run while striking out two batters.
Kole Calhoun, Deven Marrero, and Mitchell Lambson talked about the end of their careers:
KC: Well, for me it’s just heartbreaking. That was my last college game that I’ll ever play, you know? And I couldn’t be any prouder to do it with this group of guys.
We had all the pieces. And we just came here and just didn’t really play that well. You guys saw the games. But I’ll take away from here just all these great memories of being on two of the best Sun Devil teams of all time, coming to the College World Series, getting two opportunities to play here, and I really wouldn’t trade it for anything.
DM: I’d say this year is probably one of the best years as a team that I’ve been part of in my life. And it was really fun. And the opportunity to be here on this team and to come to Omaha as a freshman was unbelievable.
And I give credit to the seniors and juniors on our squad that helped me out and our other freshmen out, and it was a great opportunity. And I’ll tell you what, next year we’re going to come back and all the guys will be hungry for this. We got a little taste of it and now we want the whole thing. So we’re going to be ready to come next year.
ML: You know, it’s tough to walk away right now, but we just gotta remember that feeling of walking off the field and hope that motivates us for next season.
Sam Dyson who was 29th on our Top 100 countdown (FULL ARTICLE) went 7.1 innings allowing eight hits, four walks, and walking only two batters to pick up the win. His record improves to 6-5 on the year.
Dyson stated the following about what he had for pitches today:
Primarily fastball changeup. My slider curveball was rarely over the plate. If it was, it barely got swung at. Just worked around the plate, got some swings and jammed a few guys, seemed like when they hit the ball a couple times, they hit some bleeders or some whatever you want to call it there. But I was just throwing the fastball changeup primarily. That’s what got me out of some jams.
South Carolina will face the loser of the Clemson/Oklahoma game while Arizona State season ends at 52-10 after a disappointing 0-2 run in the CWS.