Bats Fall Silent As USC Drops CWS Opener

South Carolina had no answer for Cal State Fullerton's Jason Windsor Saturday, managing only three hits and suffering 14 strikeouts in a disappointing 2-0 loss in its opening game of the 2004 College World Series in Omaha. The loss drops USC into the losers brackets and substantially dimishes the Gamecocks' chances of capturing its first national championship in baseball. USC's next game will be Monday afternoon against the LSU-Miami loser ...

Another opening game in the College World Series.

Another unsatisfactory result.

For the third straight year, South Carolina fired blanks in its CWS lidlifter, dropping a 2-0 decision Saturday to the Cal-State Fullerton Titans before 23,976 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.

The result now means USC has been shutout three straight years in its opening CWS contest. This year, the Gamecocks were neutralized by CSF starter Jason Windsor, who struckout 14 and limited USC to three hits, two by Michael Campbell.

USC will face the loser of the LSU-Miami opening round game Monday afternoon at 2:00 EDT in a losers bracket elimination game. USC must now win four straight games over six days to advance to the best-of-three championship series.

USC starter Matt Campbell struggled with his control throughout his 5-2/3 innings of work. Jason Fletcher was USC's best player Saturday, going 3/1-3 innings in relief and allowing only one hit. He retired 10 of the 12 batters faced, keeping USC in the game.

Displaying a case of the butterflies, Campbell walked two of the first four batters top face him in the top of the 1st. But he worked out of the jam by getting a 5-3 groundout

USC did nothing in the 1st against CSF starter Jason Windsor, one of the top pitchers in the country. Tolleson and Triplett struckout and Pearce flied to right.

Campbell issued a walk with one out in the top of the 2nd but a popup on a bunt led to a 1-3 doubleplay and the end of the inning.

USC had something going in the bottom of the 2nd, as Melillo walked and Winn executed a perfect hit-and-run single to right, putting runners on second and third with one out (Winn advanced to second on the throw in). But Michael Campbell hit a soft liner to third and Hank Parks grounded out to third to end the threat.

Campbell showed signs of settling down in the 3rd, retiring CSF in order (4-3, L-8, K). USC went down in order against Windsor in the bottom of the 3rd. Triplett struckout for the second time to end the inning.

The fourth walk issued by Campbell (to CSF's All-American catcher Kurt Suzuki) and a bouncing hit-and-run single to right gave the Titans runners on first and third with no outs in the top of the 4th. The next batter doubled off the wall down the left field line (barely missing a homer by inches) to score Suzuki with the first run of the game, and put two runners into scoring position.

With the USC infield back, Campbell struckout the next batter. Another walk loaded the bases with one out. That brought out USC pitching coach Jerry Meyer, who appeared to give his junior left an earful.

Whatever he said worked, as the next batter bounced right at Triplett at third. He threw home for the forceout and Powell fired to first in an attempt to complete the double play. His throw hit the runner in the back. Pearce scrambled to regain the ball and fired home to get the CSF runner trying to score. It was your everyday 5-2-3-2 double play. USC was fortunate to get out of the inning allowing only one run.

USC continued to struggle to generate offense against Windsor in the 4th. The Gamecocks' 3-4-5 hitters went down in order for the third time in four innings.

The Titans threatened again in the top of the 5th, using a walk, sacrifice bunt, U-3 groundout, and an intentional walk to Suzuki to put runners on the corners with two outs. Pearce saved a run by snaring a liner at first.

After Windsor had retired nine Gamecocks in a row, Michael Campbell doubled down the left field line with one out in the bottom of the 5th. Tanner elected to pinch-hit Ryan Mahoney for Parks. The strategy worked, as Mahoney worked a walk to give USC a pair of runners.

Gregg bounced into a 6-4 forceout for the second out, advancing Campbell to third. Gregg went to second on a 0-2 pitch to Tolleson when the ball bounced away from Suzuki. However, Tolleson struckout on the next pitch to end USC's best threat of the game.

Consecutive one-out singles gave CSF runners on the corners in the top of the 6th. Campbell went full on the next batter before an inside pitch grazed his shoulder to load the bases.

Campbell went full again on the next batter before inducing a bouncer to Pearce to first. Pearce stumbled for a millisecond but recovered in time to throw home for the forceout.

After Campbell fired balls on the first two pitches to the next batter, Meyers had seen enough and came out for the second time in the inning, this time to lift Campbell. Jason Fletcher, who has pitched well lately, came on to complete the walk and force in a run. Fletcher struckout the next batter to end the inning, as USC was fortunate again to give up only one run.

After USC went down in order for the fourth time in the bottom of the 6th, Fletcher initially encountered problems in the top of the 7th, surrendering a single and hit batsman, but recovered nicely with a strikeout, flyout to medium center, and 6-4 forceout. Fletcher's escape kept USC in the game heading into the final three at-bats.

Windsor showed signs of fatigue in the bottom of the 7th. He started off the inning by striking out Melillo and Winn. Campbell singled to center and Mahoney walked for the second time. Tanner elected to pinch-hit Nick Gardiner for Davy Gregg. Gardiner had one of USC's best at-bats of the day, fighting off several 3-2 pitches before coaxing a walk to load the bases.

That brought up the top of the order for USC. This day, that was a bad thing. Tolleson watched strike three to leave the bases loaded.

It went from bad to worse for USC in the final two innings, as the Gamecocks were retired in order both at-bats with five strikeouts.

COLLEGE WORLD SERIES NOTEBOOK: USC is playing in the College World Series for the third straight year for the first time in school history. . .In its three opening games since 2002, USC has been shutout by Cal State Fullerton, Stanford, and Georgia Tech. . .CSF Starter Jason Windsor was 10-0 in his last 10 starts prior to Saturday. . .USC's top four hitters (Tolleson, Triplett, Pearce, and Powell) were a combined 0-for-16 with nine strikeouts. . .The seven walks issued by Matt Campbell were a season high. LINESCORE: CSF – 000 101 000 = 2-5-0 USC – 000 000 000 = 0-3-0 WP-Jason Windsor; LP-Matt Campbell; SV-None; HR-None; TIME-3:12 A-23,976

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories