NOTEBOOK: New heroes emerge

Championship runs are not without memorable plays and heroes that make them. Monday night's game featured old heroes making new plays and new heroes emerging. Look inside for in-depth news and notes from the Gamecocks' improbable victory.

The long list of game-changing plays for South Carolina in the 2011 College World Series keeps getting longer.

And new names of players who made them seem to be added every game.

Monday night's 2-1 victory over Florida in game one of the championship series saw some old heroes continue to amaze and new ones emerge.

No one has been more clutch for the Gamecocks in their 2011 run than senior second baseman Scott Wingo.

Wingo did it with his bat with a walk-off single to beat Texas A&M 5-4 in his first game of the CWS. And again at the plate Monday in the eighth inning when he snuck a two-strike breaking pitch past pitcher Hudson Randall and into center field to score the tying run.

But perhaps his most impressive play of all came in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and Florida threatening its own walk-off win.

With the winning run 90 feet away and nobody out, pitcher John Taylor induced a ground ball to Wingo's right that appeared destined for the outfield grass. But Wingo reacted immediately, laid out and snared the bouncer, then sprung to his feet and fired home.

"Not too much, no," Wingo said, asked if he's nervous in that situation. "I was really just focused on doing my job."

Wingo did most of his job. But the throw -- he says coach Ray Tanner got on him for rushing it -- was wide of the plate and low.

Right on cue, that's when a new star emerged. Catcher Robert Beary turned into a first baseman -- the position he was going to possibly have to play if Christian Walker couldn't with a broken bone in his hand -- kept one foot on the plate, reached across his body and back-handed the short-hop for the first out of the inning.

"Big pick by Beary," Wingo said. "Real big pick by Beary."

But the inning wasn't over yet. It soon would be, though. With the infield still pulled in, a bouncer to, you guessed it, Wingo resulted in a 4-2-3 double play to end the inning.

"We turned it the hard way," Tanner said of his decision to leave the infield in. "Would we have been able to turn it had he been back, and you would say, well, maybe because it seemed like a tailor made double play. But he runs really well.

"And you can't be close, even if you don't get a double play you get the out at the plate. And you're still playing."

Just one inning later a new hero emerged. With two outs and the winning run on second base, Mike Zunino's sharp single to left field appeared likely to end the game in the Gators' favor.

But left fielder Jake Williams fielded it cleanly and came up firing.

Williams says he has the weakest arm in the Gamecocks' outfield. But he had a little help. Williams says he had a "weird intuition" that the ball was coming his way.

"I guess it kind of got me ready to make that throw, too," he said.

The throw was perfect. Beary, again on the receiving end, made the grab and dove back to his right tagging Cody Dent on the arm as he slid by.

Christian Walker scored the eventual game-winning run in the top half of the very next inning.

"I think we've been through them a lot," Wingo said of the gut-wrenching game-on-the-line situations. "I think the experience helps u a little bit."

Koumas makes a statement

It wasn't an ideal scenario. Freshman pitcher vs. Florida's ace Hudson Randall.

But that was the situation and as they have all season, the Gamecocks just went with it.

Making his first appearance in this year's CWS, Forrest Koumas gave the Gamecocks exactly what they needed.

"I just tried to take the crowd out of it," Koumas said, "just focus on the mitt and hit my spots the best I could."

Koumas went 5.2 innings giving up just an earned run and three hits.

"I was very happy with his outing, quite honestly," Tanner said. "And I would have said that had we lost the game tonight. I thought he was poised, composed. He battled. He had pretty good stuff.

It's not easy. It's not easy for seniors to be in this environment, but for three freshmen that had not pitched yet, and he did a fantastic job for me."

"It's definitely a dream come true," Koumas said. "I've been hoping for this moment since I was five-years-old. It finally came true."

Walker plays through it

First baseman Christian Walker exited his batting practice session early Sunday, went and sat down in the dugout and got incredible emotional.

He just didn't have it, Tanner said at the time.

It was eventually revealed that Walker has a hamate fracture in his left wrist.

Monday night, a much different looking Walker stepped into the cage for pregame batting practice and launched a few balls into the seats.

"I'm shocked that he was able to play tonight," Tanner said after the game.

Walker wasn't even in the initial lineup that Tanner submitted. But a after the BP session, he was inserted.

Walker delivered two hits and the eventual game-winning run.

"I knew it was going to take a lot of pain specifically for me not to play," Walker said. I can't say enough about (South Carolina athletic trainer) Brainard Cooper and Dr. (John) Walsh and Dr. (Chris) Mazoue (of USC Orthopedics & Sports Medicine) and (also) everybody at Methodist Hospital for doing everything they did.

"And you know, for the last half of (Sunday), I think I didn't think I was going to be able to play. But you know, they came out and really - I mean I'm speechless about it. They did a great job. I can't thank them enough."

Tanner said that it's a situation where there's no threat to him making the injury worse, but a matter of finding a way to deal with the pain.

It will be another battle to get Walker in the game Tuesday night. "I'm sure it will be a struggle," Tanner said. "We'll try to repeat the procedure and see if we can get him back out there (tonight)."

Price goes

The Gamecocks got another major boost from a player they thought wouldn't be available.

After throwing 95 pitches Friday, closer Matt Price wasn't likely to throw Monday.

But Sunday afternoon, he said if there were three outs needed to win, then he'd probably be ready.

In the bottom of the eleventh, Carolina leading 2-1, that opportunity presented itself.

"Well, I was surprised that he was able to be out there, quite honestly. I talked to him a little bit today. And I just really didn't anticipate him pitching. I said: 'How do you feel? You're going to be pretty good for tomorrow?' He said: 'Yeah, I'm surprisingly in very good shape.'

"Now he's in great condition. He works extremely hard. He does this slush work and milking of his arm and does everything he can to be ready to go. He's a bullpen guy.

"He told me right before the game: 'I surely got an inning in me.' He said: 'I feel pretty good.' I said: Don't get up until we tell you to get up.' I didn't want him down there throwing.

"He said: 'Really, I'm good to go.' And so you have to trust your players. And we got in a situation that it was an important inning. So we put him in there."

Webb steps up

Sophomore left-hander Tyler Webb has been throwing in the bullpen for much of the College World Series. But he hadn't yet gotten any real action until Monday night.

South Carolina needed him to come up big and he did just that.

"I thought Tyler threw the ball really well," Tanner said. "He was all around the plate. He didn't get a couple of (strike calls), but he located well.

Webb pitched 2.1 innings and gave up just a single hit as he got several big outs along the way.

"They go out there and are very comfortable," Tanner said of Webb and reliever John Taylor. "They did a super job for us."

Extra bases...

South Carolina picked up its 54th win of the season, tying the 2010 National Championship team for third on the school's single- season wins list. ... Matt Price picked up his 19th save of the season on Monday, matching Texas' Corey Knebel for the national lead. Price, who has four CWS wins to tie the career record in that category, picked up his first-ever CWS save and how has 29 in his career. ... South Carolina has a team ERA of 0.58 in four CWS games. They are approaching the all-time CWS record for lowest series ERA, which is held by California in 1957 (0.60). South Carolina is bidding to become only the fifth time in CWS history to post an ERA under 1.00 and first since Arizona State in 1972 (0.68). ... South Carolina's bullpen has a 4-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in 17.2 innings of work in Omaha. ... South Carolina is 3-0 in one-run games at the CWS this year. They are 13-3 for the 2011 in one-run contests. ... As a team, South Carolina has a 1.24 ERA in nine NCAA Tournament games. The Gamecocks' bullpen is 6-0 with four saves and a 0.56 ERA in 32.1 innings and has not allowed an extra-base hit. ... John Taylor made his 49th appearance of the season for South Carolina. He has appeared in the Gamecocks' last 11 games (dating back to May 26), including all nine of South Carolina's NCAA Tournament contests. His 49 appearances is second on the NCAA's single-season list, as Connor Falkenbach (Florida, 2005) holds the record with 51 appearances. Taylor's 77 appearances in his career is seventh on South Carolina career charts. ... South Carolina has now trailed in three of its four MCWS contests. The only game where the Gamecocks never trailed in Omaha was the 7-1 win over Virginia on June 21. ... Scott Wingo broke a 0-for-9 slump with his eighth-inning RBI single. He had not had a hit since going 4-for-4 in the CWS opener against Texas A&M on June 19. ... Forrest Koumas went 5.2 innings in his first 2011 MCWS appearance, his longest outing since going a career-long 7.1 innings against Tennessee on April 9. Koumas, who also started against Stetson on June 5, has a 1.86 in two NCAA Tournament games this season. ... Jake Williams' outfield assist to end the bottom of the 10th inning was his first of the season. ... Christian Walker was just 3-of-6 in stolen bases before his 11th inning stolen base, a play he ultimately scored on after two errors. ... Matt Price has now pitched in all four of South Carolina's MCWS games and last five games dating back to the Super Regional win over Connecticut on June 12.

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