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Big Inning Powers Gamecocks

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Most Gamecock fans were probably thinking "Oh no, not again" after the first inning on Tuesday when South Carolina stranded two runners to waste a promising start to the game.  Two days earlier against Oklahoma, the Gamecocks struggled to bring in runners, stranding ten and leaving the bases loaded twice in the final two innings.

But the faithful would have to wait just an inning longer to see the South Carolina offense come to life at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Third baseman Adrian Morales and catcher Kyle Enders singled to lead off the second inning to put early pressure on Sun Devil starter Merrill Kelly. Shortstop Bobby Haney unsuccessfully attempted to bunt the runners over, bringing up second baseman Scott Wingo with one out.

Wingo showed bunt initially before lacing a line drive down the left field line for a two-run double to put the Gamecocks ahead 2-0.

"Wingo uncharacteristically hit a ball the other way that drove in a couple of runs," said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. "Kyle Enders did a great job scoring on that play. He's not the most fleet of foot and he got a great read on that ball."

Outfielders Evan Marzilli and Whit Merrifield quickly singled to put runners on first and second base and give sophomore Jackie Bradley, Jr the opportunity to continue to showcase his talents. Bradley hammered an 0-1 pitch to left center field and extend South Carolina's lead to 6-0.

"I just wanted to stay aggressive, especially in certain counts with baserunners on," said Bradley. "I was actually just looking to drive one and get a sac fly or something. He made a great pitch and I just happened to get a good swing on it. It was wind-assisted a little bit."

"Jackie is a bit humble, but that ball that he hit to left center...maybe the wind took it a few rows up, but he hit that ball hard," said Tanner.

Morales, who flied out on Sunday with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, felt like he redeemed himself when he dinged a ball off the left field foul pole to stretch the Gamecock lead to 8-0.

"I'm my biggest critic so I felt it the worst. I was down on myself all night and couldn't sleep," he said. "I wanted to bounce back and help the team win and I was able to do that today."

When the dust finally settled at the end of the second inning, the Gamecocks had scored the second-most runs in an inning in a game this year and recorded the most hits in an inning in a game. Morales became the first Gamecock since Steve Pearce to record two hits in the same inning in a College World Series game. Pearce had two singles against LSU in 2004 at the CWS.

"Eight runs, eight hits. We don't score runs like that very often," said Tanner. "We had some big at-bats that gave us an opportunity against a great club."

Arizona State head coach Tim Esmay said South Carolina's big inning dealt the Sun Devils an early mental blow.

"You can't have a start like we did against a quality team like South Carolina," said Arizona State head coach Tim Esmay. "They put us on our heels."

"It was stunning," said Sun Devils right fielder Kole Calhoun. "It's tough and it makes you think. An eight-run deficit is hard to overcome against a good team. We were shocked."

With a comfortable cushion, South Carolina starter Sam Dyson went to work with a gritty performance, throwing over 100 pitches in high temperatures.

"I thought Dyson was outstanding. You look at his line and see that he had only three strikeouts, but he would have had eight or nine against any other team today," said Tanner. "Arizona State is a tremendous club and I knew we were going to have to get 27 hard outs today."

"It's a lot easier when you have eight runs on the board - you just have to keep your focus," said Dyson. "I just worked around the plate and got some swings. Mostly it was my fastball and changeup that were working for me today."

Dyson worked seven and a third innings, striking out three batters, allowing eight hits and four earned runs.

"Talk about grinding one out. I didn't feel like he breezed through any inning, but he was a warrior out there today for them," said Esmay.

Key Performance: Jackie Bradley, Jr. - 3-4, 4 RBI, run scored vs. Arizona State

In College World Series - 5-8, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 runs

"He's a very tough out. He's aggressive and he attacks the baseball. He's one of the better players we've played against and he's playing at a very high level right now." - Esmay


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