CHAMPS!

Whit Merrifield's eleventh inning base hit scored Scott Wingo from third base and made the Gamecocks national champions. After USC tied the game in the eighth, Matt Price pitched the Gamecocks into extra innings, where they finally emerged victorious, 2-1. Price picked up the win for South Carolina (54-16), and UCLA (51-17) pitcher Dan Klein took the loss. It is Ray Tanner's first title.

It wasn't the most impressive team. Or the most powerful. Or the one with the best pitching.

It wasn't even the team with the most wins.

But when all is said and done, the 2010 edition of the South Carolina Gamecocks are the only ones to be called national champions.

A hard fought, back and forth game between the Gamecocks and the UCLA Bruins was finally decided on Whit Merrifield's single to right field, scoring Scott Wingo from third base and giving USC it's first major national title.

"You start in February with 300 teams and you get a chance to go to the postseason, and maybe to a Super Regional, and then you have things go right for you and you go to Omaha," said Ray Tanner after earning his first championship. "And you to play in the national championship series. And you're the last team standing."

Coach Tanner also said he looks forward to sharing the title with the rest of the Gamecock community.

"Just a wonderful, wonderful time for our players and coaches. The University of South Carolina, our great fans, and a lot of them made the trek out here to Omaha, and looking forward to getting back to Columbia tomorrow and sharing this championship with our great university and the city of Columbia and our many, many wonderful fans."

The game began with both starting pitchers throwing up zeroes on the board, with Michael Roth getting the nod for USC and the Gamecocks facing UCLA left-hander Rob Rasmussen.

Roth wouldn't have quite the stuff he had in his complete game victory over Clemson, but was able to work around early trouble to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard as the Gamecock bats struggled.

The Bruins would leave runners on in the first, second, and third while facing Roth, who came up with pitches again and again to hold the 0-0 tie.

The second frame saw trouble pop up quickly for Roth as he allowed a leadoff single to Brett Krill before walking Chris Giovinazzo. In one of his biggest moments of the outing, Roth induced a double play off the bat of Trevor Brown and got Steve Rodriguez to ground out back to the mound to leave Krill stranded on third.

In the third inning, Beau Amaral would reach with a one out double before being stranded at third as Roth struck out Dean Espy to end the inning.

After a perfect fourth, Roth ran into trouble again in the fifth, giving up what looked like the deciding run for much of the game.

Trevor Brown beat out a leadoff infield single and reached second on Rodriguez's sacrifice bunt. With one down, leadoff batter Niko Gallego singled in the only UCLA run of the game, scoring Brown and giving the Bruins the 1-0 lead.

Roth departed following his fifth inning of work, but gave Carolina a chance with another excellent start, giving up just the one run on six hits.

"I was planning on going nine innings again," joked Roth following the game. "You know, never would I have ever thought that I was going to start a game here in Omaha. But, you know, it's been great. I'm honored that they called upon me. It's a wonderful feeling to be a starting pitcher of the final game in Omaha."

That lead would continue to hold up through the eighth inning, as South Carolina continued to waste chances with runners on base.

In total, the Gamecocks would leave thirteen men on base over the course of the game, but was able to finally score with their backs against the wall.

Despite loading the bases with two outs in second, and advancing runners into scoring position in the fifth and sixth, the Gamecock bats continued to be mystified by the pitching of Rasmussen.

The left-hander for UCLA would fire six innings of shutout ball in total, striking out five while walking four on one hundred and nine pitches.

The Gamecocks finally repaid the favor to UCLA's pitching and tied the game in the eighth with a couple of clutch hits off of Bruin reliever Erik Goeddel.

Brady Thomas pinch hit for Adam Matthews to lead off the inning, and got things going with a single to center field. Thomas was replaced at first by pinch runner Robert Beary, who also scored the tying run in the ninth inning of Carolina's 3-2 win over Oklahoma.

With Enders batting, Beary was running on a 2-1 pitch, and moved up to second on his groundout to third base. Bobby Haney stepped up to the plate next, and with two hits already to his name, grounded one to the right side, getting just enough to glance it off Dean Espy's glove and into right field to score Beary and tie it at one.

Despite an unearned run and no RBI for Haney, the Gamecocks could breathe a little easier knowing they had tied the game and taken at least a small amount of pressure off their struggling offense.

John Taylor would hand the ball off to Matt Price in the ninth, and the closer would do his job, bridging the gap into extra innings to keep the Gamecocks in the contest and eventually deliver the win.

In total, the USC bullpen would fire six innings of scoreless relief.

But Price's outing wasn't without some scary moments, as the Bruins managed to load the bases with two outs in the ninth and put the pressure squarely on the Carolina closer. However, Price would strike out Gallego on three pitches for the third out, eliciting a huge roar from the crowd and drawing perhaps the biggest fist pump of the year from Price.

"It was huge for us," said Tanner. "Matt Price and the entire bullpen have been very special for us the entire year and toward the latter part, he's been sort of the guy we get on his back there at the end either keep us alive or win it for us or save it for us. And he came up huge again tonight."

Things would continue to hold at 1-1 as UCLA closer Dan Klein proved hard to handle as well.

With flashbulbs popping on the potential for a walk off on every pitch, Klein would throw three and a third innings of relief, giving up just one hit and one run, while striking out four and walking two.

But that one hit and one run would be the biggest of the series given up by Klein.

It all started in the bottom of the eleventh, as number nine hitter and team leader Scott Wingo walked on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the inning. Wingo would advance to second on a passed ball, setting up a big opportunity for leadoff batter Evan Marzilli, who came up with a chance to bunt Wingo over to third.

Although the Gamecocks had faced some trouble putting down bunts over the course of the week, they came through again when it counted, as Marzilli got the bunt down and allowed Wingo to reach third with just one out.

On a 2-0 pitch, Whit Merrifield would win the 2010 College World Series with the biggest hit of his career, his life, and in Gamecock baseball history. A slicing line drive to right gave USC with win, as Merrifield's RBI single scored Scott Wingo, who came in with the final run in CWS history at Rosenblatt, setting off a celebration of Ray Tanner's first national championship.

"It's just an amazing feeling," added CWS Most Outstanding Player Jackie Bradley Jr. in winning the title with this team. "It's just not a one man thing. It's like a family to me."

Carolina's pitching was the story of the tournament, allowing them to move out of the loser's bracket and make it all the way through the championship series. South Carolina led the CWS with a 2.15 team ERA, giving up just sixteen earned runs over the course of sixty-seven innings pitched.

Also, USC would lead the tournament with a fielding percentage that saw them convert a percentage of .979, and turn a series best seven double plays.

"I don't want to act like we can't hit at all," Tanner said in describing his offense. "But there were times when we had trouble scoring runs, (yet) really there was never a time that we didn't pitch and play defense throughout the entire season."

For a coach that had been so close but fallen short before, a career comes full circle with the win.

"No matter how good your program is, there's a lot of great programs out there," said Tanner. "It's just a great run. You have to have a lot of things happen for you and you have to have the right kind of people around you. But it's not impossible to be sitting where we are. But I just can't – I'm ecstatic to be a part of this program and winning the national championship."

And when all is said and done, Coach Ray Tanner and his Gamecocks can simply be remembered for winning.

Winning for Bayler. Winning for the fans. And most importantly, winning it all.

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