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Gators vow to take next step in CWS

June 30, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Florida is still looking for its first College World Series championship.

South Carolina was in control throughout in a 5-2 victory Tuesday night that completed a two-game sweep in the CWS finals and produced a second straight national championship for the Gamecocks.

Both teams had won three straight games to reach the championship round, but the Gamecocks proved best in the matchup of Southeastern Conference rivals. Florida (53-19) was back in Omaha after going two games and out last year.

"It's nice to make steps," coach Kevin O'Sullivan said, "but to be honest with you, the idea is to win this thing. Our goal year in, year out is to win a national championship. I think we have the pieces in place - facilities, etc. - to be one of those teams year in, year out. We're going to be back here. We want to finish this thing off."

Michael Roth pitched 7 2/3 innings on three days' rest in a game that lacked the drama of the Gamecocks' 2-1, 11-inning win Monday night.

South Carolina (55-14) became the first team to ever go 10-0 in an NCAA tournament and the first since Oregon State in 2007 to go unbeaten in a CWS.

The Gamecocks' streaks of 16 NCAA tournament wins and 11 straight in the CWS are both the longest all-time.

They became the sixth team to win consecutive national titles and first since Oregon State in 2006-07.

"They earned this one," O'Sullivan said. "They were a little bit better than us in all phases. They pitched a little bit better. They hit a little bit better. They played a little bit better defense."

The Gators committed one error in Game 2, and it was a big one.

After Peter Mooney doubled and scored on Scott Wingo's sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead, Evan Marzilli came home when Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana swiped at and missed Christian Walker's grounder with two outs. Brady Thomas brought in another run with an infield single.

The Gators frustrated O'Sullivan at the plate, too, coming up empty after getting two runners on base with no outs in both the fifth and sixth innings and getting the leadoff man on base in the seventh.

South Carolina won the first CWS at TD Ameritrade Park after winning the last one at Rosenblatt Stadium.

"Beginning of the year I said we finished at the old one, so let's try to open the new one up," said Wingo, the Gamecocks' second baseman who was voted the CWS Most Outstanding Player. "Coach wasn't sure we would get it, but I'm the type of guy who felt we were going to do it. I was thinking of the Oregon State team the whole year. I had a feeling we would get back and win this thing, and we did."

"We're not the most talented team, and we don't have the best players position for position," Roth said, "but we go out and stick together as a team. We battle. I can't describe it. We're a bunch of average Joes and love each other and come out and battle."

Mooney doubled to start a three-run third inning and hit the Gamecocks' first home run of the CWS in the sixth.

After giving up four runs in the first inning of their opener against Texas A&M, the Gamecocks allowed just six in their other 50 innings here.

Three of the Gamecocks' first four wins here came in their last at-bat and included incredible pitching and defensive performances in the late innings.

"You have to be a little lucky to win this game," Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. "We were living a charmed life."

Wingo had the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth against Texas A&M and made two great plays to keep Florida from scoring late in the game Monday. He batted .333 and drove in four runs.

Roth (14-3), who pitched seven innings against Virginia on Friday, gave up five hits and two runs before leaving in the eighth. He started last year's national championship game, but didn't get the decision.

Matt Price worked 1 1/3 innings for his 20th save.

Florida starter Karsten Whitson (8-1) came out strong, mixing in his mid-90s fastball to strike out three of the first six batters.

South Carolina scored three runs in the third after Mooney's leadoff double into the left-field corner. Whitson, a freshman who was the No. 9 overall draft pick by the San Diego Padres in 2010, left with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth.

"I just think I started nibbling a little bit and pitched behind the count, walked a couple of guys, hit a few," Whitson said. "It wasn't very good execution on my part. Just tried to keep my team in the game as best as possible."

The Gators made it a two-run game when Mariner High graduate Mike Zunino hit Roth's 84-mph slider into the seats in left for his 19th homer of the season - and first off Roth since April 22.

"I'm just trying to do everything I can so I can play more games with my boys," Zunino said. "It's just an empty feeling. You stick with these guys a whole year, two, three years sometimes, and you just grow close. When you can't achieve that goal you just go after it, you just feel empty."

 
 

 

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