June 23, 2004
By ERIC OLSON
OMAHA, Neb. - South Carolina has survived to play another day. Facing a must-win situation, the Gamecocks pulled out a 5-3 win over Cal State Fullerton to force a winner-take-all game on Thursday for a date with Texas in the College World Series championship round.
Jason Fletcher and Chad Blackwell combined to hold Fullerton hitless over the last five innings. Bryan Triplett homered and drove in the go-ahead run for South Carolina (53-16), which forced a rematch with the Titans (44-22).
Fletcher (6-1) went six innings and allowed all five Fullerton hits. Fletcher and Blackwell combined to retire 16 of the last 17 batters after Ronnie Prettyman's bunt single in the fourth inning.
Blackwell earned his nation-leading 20th save.
Mike Martinez (8-3) took the loss after allowing five runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Felipe Garcia's two-run double in the first inning gave Fullerton the lead, but South Carolina scored in the second on Brendan Winn's RBI single and went ahead 3-2 in the third on Triplett's two-run homer.
The Titans tied it at 3 in the fourth after Sergio Pedroza walked and took third on P.J. Pilittere's single. Pedroza came home on Prettyman's squeeze bunt.
The Gamecocks took the lead in the seventh inning. Davy Gregg bunted and
reached third when Martinez threw wildly to first after going to his knees to
field the ball.
Triplett followed with a tiebreaking single between third and shortstop, and Steve Pearce added a run with an RBI single.
A South Carolina win on Thursday would set up a rematch of its 2002 CWS final against Texas. The Gamecocks have been national runners-up three times, but have never won a title.
Fullerton hopes to play for its fourth national title. The Titans' titles in 1979, '84 and '95 came under Garrido.
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