Gamecocks return to CWS finals in dramatic fashion

OMAHA, NE. (WACH/AP) - Few Gamecock fans could envision that anything could top last year's 11 inning national championship clinching game against UCLA; that perception may have changed after Friday night. USC is now two wins away from a second straight national title after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers 3-2 in 13 innings. The marathon game ended after Adam Matthews crossed home plate on a Cavaliers throwing error, but the Gamecocks had to battle adversity from the get go. Virginia starter Danny Hultzen was masterful early on, throwing eight strikeouts over three innings, but he exited after the third inning due to an illness. South Carolina's fortunes began to change from that point on. Trailing 1-0 in the 4th, Brady Thomas doubled to centerfield scoring Jackie Bradley and Christian Walker. Virginia tied the game in the top of the 8th after infielder Peter Mooney mishandled a John Hicks shot up the middle, allowing a run to score. The game remained tied into the 13th inning and it appeared the Cavaliers would blow the game open. Facing a bases loaded situation, closer Matt Price struck out shortstop Chris Taylor. Price then got leftfielder John Barr to ground into an inning ending double play. Price scattered five hits over seven innings of extended relief. His efforts would be rewarded in the bottom of the frame. Thomas singled leading off the 13th against Cavs Reliever Winiarski. Matthews came in to run and advanced when Winiarski pivoted and threw wildly trying to get him at second on Peter Mooney's bunt. Robert Beary followed with another bunt. Winiarski tried to throw out Matthews at third, but he threw the ball away, allowing the winning run to score. South Carolina set a national record with it's 14th straight NCAA tournament win, dating back to last season. The Gamecocks will face division rival Florida in the College World Series finals. Florida advanced to the best-of-three series by defeating Vanderbilt earlier in the day. South Carolina took two of three games against the Gators earlier this season. Game 1 is Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
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