The Friday night game between South Carolina and Virginia will be viewed as a classic ten years from now. Nobody who was fortunate enough to watch this game is going to forget what they saw between these two teams in a game that has sent Virginia home and South Carolina to another championship series.
It took 13 innings to find a winner but South Carolina finally got that elusive third run in the bottom of the 13th inning. Two throwing errors by Virginia reliever, Cody Winiarski gave South Carolina the victory in an ending that was anything but representative of this game.
Matt Price and Branden Kline were absolute studs for their respective teams. Both closers went above and beyond what anyone would, or should expect from guys that aren't set up to throw 90+ pitches. But that's exactly what they both did. Price went 5.2 innings for South Carolina, giving up seven hits and no runs by throwing 95 pitches. Kline threw 107 pitches in 5 innings and giving up no runs for Virginia.
By the end of the game everyone watching had forgot the outstanding display of pitching that Danny Hultzen gave the fans at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, and the millions watching around the world. He took himself out of the game with an illness after throwing just three innings for Virginia. But in those three innings, he struck out eight Gamecocks. Anyone wondering what the Seattle Mariners saw in the kid to take him No. 2 overall in the past draft had their questions answered. But right after Hultzen came out, South Carolina threw up two runs off Kyle Crockett on a two RBI-double by Brady Thomas.
Each team had their opportunities to win this game. Brady Thomas was the only starter from either team that did not leave anyone on base. In a game that had dozens of momentum swings for both teams, especially from great defensive plays by Virginia outfielders John Barr and David Coleman. The biggest momentum swing was in the top of the 13th inning when Virginia had the bases-loaded with nobody out. Price got Chris Taylor to strike out swinging for the first out, and then John Barr lined into a double-play as the second baseman caught the liner and flipped it to 2nd base to double-off Colin Harrington. That seemed to make the difference as Virginia could not overcome another opportunity missed.
Brady Thomas led off the bottom of the 13th inning with a single to centerfield on a full-count 9-pitch at bat. This is where the wheels fell off for Virginia. An attempted sacrifice bunt from South Carolina was fielded by the pitcher, Cody Winiarski, who threw an errant ball to second base in an attempt to get the lead runner. The very next batter also laid down a sac bunt and Winiarski threw a low-fastball to the 3rd baseman in another attempt to get the lead runner, the ball got away and the winning run came into score for South Carolina. In all honesty, the runner at third was most likely going to be safe regardless of whether or not it was a good throw. It was a terrible way to end a fantastic baseball game.
The only people who are more excited about this game other than South Carolina, is Florida. The Gamecocks are going to need a few ice-baths to get over this game. They have a couple of days rest before they start up against Florida in the championship series starting on Monday. The best-of-three series will determine the 2011 national champion.