Gamecocks hammer #1 ASU to stay alive

Sam Dyson brought the heat and the Gamecock bats laid the wood as South Carolina (49-16) took down the #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, beating Arizona State (52-10) by an 11-4 score to stay alive in Omaha. An 8-run second inning highlighted by home runs from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Adrian Morales was all Dyson needed in the big victory.

Omaha, Neb. – Facing a tall order coming in, South Carolina delivered, making Arizona State the first #1 national seed to go 0-2 in the College World Series since seeding began in 1999.

It didn't take long for them to punish the Sun Devil pitching to the tune of an eight run second inning, and establish a big lead in support of Sam Dyson. Their 8-0 second inning lead would grow to 10-0 after three, and would be more than enough for Carolina to hold on for the 11-4 victory.

"I'm very proud of our team to bounce back from a tough loss the other night," said Ray Tanner after the ballgame. "Certainly a difficult task for us today. Sam Dyson was outstanding. Arizona State has a tremendous club, and I knew that you were going to have to get 27 hard outs, and that's what it ended up being."

Sam Dyson picked up the win to move his record to a game over .500 at 6-5, beating the Pac-10 champions in the process.

Despite coming into the CWS with a dominant 52-8 record, the Sun Devils couldn't overcome either team from the Palmetto State.

"As a tournament for two games, we just didn't have the ability to finish off at-bats," said ASU first year head coach Tim Esmay. "The kids kept playing, and unfortunately at the end, South Carolina was better than us today."

After wasting yet another chance with runners in scoring position in the first, USC came out with a vengeance in the second, taking the life out of Arizona State and smashing their way to the quick 8-0 lead.

Wingo got things going for Carolina with a double that landed softly down the line in left and scored the first two runs of the game off State starter Merrill Kelly. Kelly would give up a lot more before he was done, a total of ten hits and eight earned runs in just one and two-thirds innings.

Whit Merrifield got a big day started with an RBI single before Carolina truly started to bring the thunder, starting with Jackie Bradley Jr.'s three-run homer into the left-center field stands.

"I was feeling really good," said Bradley Jr. "I wasn't trying to do too much, trying to stay short to the ball, get something elevated and hit it to the outfield."

Brady Thomas kept things going with a two out single before Adrian Morales ripped a home run off the foul pole in left to complete the eight-spot Carolina established in the second.

Their eight hits in the inning were the most of any inning this season.

Morales came back with a vengeance today after leaving the tying run on third base against Oklahoma, finishing 2-5 on the afternoon with two runs batted in and two runs scored.

"I'm my biggest critic, so I felt it the worst," said Morales in describing Sunday's loss. "I tried to bounce back and help the team win and I was able to do that today."

Carolina would add to the lead in the third despite just one hit in the inning, with Bradley Jr. driving in a run after he was hit by a pitch and Christian Walker picking up an RBI with a bases loaded walk.

The big lead was more than enough for Dyson, as he shut the Sun Devils out over the first four innings and put them in a hole too big to recover from.

ASU would finally break through for two runs in the fifth as Deven Marrero led things off with a double before Andrew Aplin walked to put two on with nobody out. After a popout to right, catcher Austin Barnes and leadoff man Drew Maggi followed with back-to-back RBI singles to cut into the USC lead.

Arizona State Mitchell Lambson would settle in after giving up the two runs in the third, getting the Gamecocks in order in the fourth and sixth innings and allowing just one hit over that span.

In total, he threw 4.1 innings of relief, giving up just two hits and two earned runs, while striking out four. Lambson only walked two batters, one being the key RBI walk to Walker. Dyson would run into trouble after coming out to start the eighth inning, walking Kole Calhoun before giving up a one out single to Johnny Reutiger.

He would depart the game at that point, and USC closer Matt Price came on to try and finish things out. He too ran into problems initially as he faced the #1 team in the nation on college baseball's biggest stage.

Back-to-back RBI singles would follow Dyson's departure, with both runs being charged to the USC starter. After a walk loaded the bases, Price would come back and strike out Barnes and Maggi to leave the bags full.

Price's rough eighth would be followed by a solid ninth to end it. A leadoff single by Zack MacPhee was followed by a popout and two consecutive strikeouts of Torrez and Reuttiger to end the ballgame and finally send the Sun Devils packing.

State refused to give up until the end, even bringing in all-star Closer Jordan Swagerty to try to keep the Carolina bats at bay and allow a Sun Devil comeback.

Swagerty was effective, but it wasn't to be as Whit Merrifield hit a massive home run that landed just under the scoreboard in left to increase the lead to seven in the eighth.

This marked the fourth consecutive trip under Tanner that the Gamecocks have lost their opening game in the CWS before bouncing back with a win the next time out.

With an offense that is now confident and a pitching staff looking to continue their good work, Tanner hopes that his team will be able to make a run after avoiding the dreaded "two and barbeque."

"I'm always a bad coach in the first game," Tanner joked. "It's hard to explain. But, you know, the thing about this team, in particular, and some of the teams I've had, they're very resilient. They bounce back. Certainly that eight run inning propelled us to a good position, but these guys are mature."

And as far as the pitching?

"The part that I'm so excited about is we only allowed four runs two games in a row. And I know there were runners everywhere a couple of times, but at the end of the day, our pitching staff has limited both Oklahoma and Arizona State to four runs in two outings."

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