Gamecocks nip Bruins in 11 innings

OMAHA, Neb. -
Rosenblatt Stadium is a living, breathing testament to college baseball, a relic that has 50 years of memories coursing through its concourses. It pulses with every pitch, smells like 1952 and 1965 and 1983, oozes small-town charm.

The College World Series will leave the venerated grounds next season, heading down 10th Street and settling in at the new monolithic TD Ameritrade Ballpark, a modern marvel of beauty and comfort.

But the ol’ ballpark had a little more magic in her, she wasn’t ready to watch the young ballplayers go.

Rosenblatt held on for two extra innings, an 11th inning single by South Carolina’s Whit Merrifield driving home Scott Wingo to lift the Gamecocks to the 2-1 win over UCLA in front of 24,390.

“I was sitting out by the third baseline for opening ceremonies with the other teams, thinking, ‘What a venue, what an atmosphere, what a history, to be able to come in the last year, to be part of the College World Series and the closing of Rosenblatt,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “And it dawned on me, it would be wonderful to go deep into this thing and be around at the end. And to be able to survive and win the last game is really incredible.
“I know the new stadium will be very special and a great facility. But this is history.”


The stage was set for the final run at Rosenblatt Stadium when UCLA closer Dan Klein walked Wingo on a full-count with no outs in the bottom of the 11th. Wingo advanced to second base on a passed ball by Bruins catcher Steve Rodriguez, and a sacrifice bunt by Evan Marzilli pushed him to third.

Then Merrifield strode to the plate, lightbulbs flashing, the massively pro-South Carolina crowd feeling that the game was at hand.

It was.

Merrifield drove a 2-0 pitch to right field, sprinting to first base while throwing off his helmet, chased closely by the entire Gamecock squad as Wingo crossed home plate.

“Aw, man,” a panting Merrifield said after the game. “When I saw they weren’t going to walk me, I was trying to get a pitch in the strike zone I could get in the air. I got a fastball and I went with it. This is unbelievable. … This is too much.”

In the end, it appears Klein’s inflated pitch count was simply too much.

The UCLA closer, who has been magnificent for the Bruins with a team-leading 1.85 ERA and 10 saves, threw 73 pitches in 3 1/3 innings, 14 more than his previous high of 59 at Oregon State on April 10.

Klein was his typical dominant self for his first three innings, walking one and striking out four.

After Wingo moved to second on the passed ball, UCLA coach John Savage went out to the mound, taking every step to decide whether to insert Wednesday’s likely starter Trevor Bauer.

Savage stuck with Klein.

“Klein is a starter who is closing,” Savage said. “He’s a four-pitch guy, one of the best closers in the country. He could be a No. 1 starter in most programs, that’s how good he is. And if there’s a guy out there with the ball at the end of the game any better than him, then I’d like to see him.”

Before Klein, there was Rob Rasmussen, the UCLA savior who sent the Bruins to the College World Series with an 8-1 win over Cal State Fullerton in the deciding game of the NCAA Super Regionals at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Rasmussen allowed six hits and no runs in six innings and struck out five on Tuesday, while the Bruins tried to solve South Carolina’s Michael Roth.

They had their opportunities.

Roth allowed six hits and two walks while striking out three before giving way to Jose Mata, who continued to dominate the Bruins before giving way to three more relievers.

The Bruins left 10 runners on base and had two runners caught off base, Beau Amaral picked off at second base in the first inning and Niko Gallego caught stealing in the fifth inning.

“We left 10 on and South Carolina left 14 on, so both teams really had opportunities,” Savage said. “Clutch pitching, big-time pitching, big pitches in big counts. We had a rally going after two outs, and we just could not come up with a big hit. And that was the story the last two nights.”

The Bruins fell to South Carolina on Monday night 7-1, baffled throughout the game by Blake Cooper, who threw on three-day’s rest. Cooper allowed just three hits and one run in eight innings while striking out 10, while UCLA ace Gerrit Cole suffered his worst outing of the season, surrendering 11 hits and six runs (four earned), while striking out just two.

It was a quick fall for the Bruins, who almost breezed through the bracket round, going 3-1 with just a loss to TCU.

The fall from grace was particularly tough on UCLA, which went into Rosenblatt Stadium’s final championship series against a South Carolina squad that lost its first game in Omaha, but closed it out with six straight wins.

“In the locker room, obviously, it’s hard to hold your emotions in,” Rasmussen said. “To get so close and to fall short hurts. But I think maybe later tonight or tomorrow, as it all kind of sinks in, and as we look back on it, we’re all going to be proud of what we did. We were under .500 last year at 27-29. We really were, like coach said, the best team that this school has ever seen.
“We set the bar for this program, really.”

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  • steve

    great season bruins. will the key players be returning next year?

  • Slippery Pete

    Jon, can you comment on the time line and how these guys move from college to pro? I know a number have been drafted, but how long do the rights follow the players? Who will we see back next year and for those heading to the pros, where can we follow them?

  • Anonymous

    Rob Rasmussen is gone. 2nd round draft pick.

    Bauer and Cole are still sophs so they will return.

  • BE REAL

    This is what I hate about sports, dealing with losing. The World Cup will produce one winner, and 31-losers. ucla had a once in a lifetime season, but I bet these boys will predominately only remember the last 2-games, for the rest of their lives.

    I recall Pauley Pavilion this year after the other USC had its way with the bruins, and watching those sad, sad bruin fans’ faces as they filed out of the stadium.

    Is sport worth it? And why do we call it sport?

    LAWYER JOHN

  • MichaelRyerson

    Being sophs won’t have anything to do with it. But congratulations on a great season. Nice, nice collection of players and very good coaching the whole year. Looking forward to next year.

  • Ralph Von Albertson, Esq.

    FROM THE DESK OF RALPH VON ALBERTSON, ESQ.

    Good morning, Bruins. This is a communication from Ralph Von Albertson, Esq., Stanford ‘95, ‘99.

    A few days ago, I informed your cross-town rivals via a posting on Wolf’s blog that I have been utterly disgusted by certain comments I have seen among his readership’s illiterate musings. I am well aware that there are many among you who avidly follow the news about USC’s depraved football program on Wolf’s blog, like a lonely and jealous spinster eavesdropping on a passionate argument between her lovely young neighbor and a roguish paramour, so I expect that my previous letter has already reached many Bruins.

    Nonetheless, I suppose there may be some among you who are content to read only Gold’s blog, so this letter will serve to communicate to you my non-negotiable demand – namely, that all of you cease and desist from citing, discussing, posting links to, or otherwise referencing an absurd, detestable farce of a “survey” from a bottom-feeding website calling itself topuniversities.com.

    While you Bruins may rejoice in offending USC fans with this so-called poll, due to the rather low ranking it bestows upon USC, you cannot imagine how offended I am to find that this wretched survey ranks my beloved Stanford in 16th place – behind both Cornell and Duke, a hotel school and the pet project of a tobacco baron!

    In particular, I must single out the confused fellow who posts under the monikers “Bruin Rob” and “UCLA Rob” and “Westwood Rob” as the primary offender, as he has posted links to this moronic survey repeatedly and shamelessly. I prevail upon you, UCLA fans, if there are any among you left with honor and decency, to use whatever influence you possess to bring an immediate halt to Rob’s disgraceful behavior.

    As for whether UCLA should outrank USC in “academics” (however you Bruins and Trojans may abuse that word), I leave that for you to debate; as I told the Trojans, it is no more important to me than the question of whether my gardener is smarter than my dog. (For those who are curious, I suspect that the answer would be “el perro,” if you catch my meaning).

    For that matter, you Bruins also may continue to debate with your Trojan rivals as to whose team recruits more and greater thugs and criminals, though in that regard, I would suggest that USC is superior, in that a certain Trojan avoided punishment for the murder of his wife and her lover, whereas your young Bruins cannot even successfully snatch a purse. And let’s not forget the unfortunate Bruin who drunkenly crashed his car, then fled on foot, leaving behind both the car and his injured girlfriend. I imagine the police did not require the assistance of Sherlock Holmes to track down that miscreant. What ineptitude! But I digress.

    By cc, I send a copy of this communication to the USC fans on Wolf’s blog as well, because I told them last week that I would post a message on Gold’s blog telling the Bruins to cease posting links to that illegitimate sham of a university ranking, and I want the Trojans to know that Ralph Von Albertson, Esq., is a man of his word.

    Good day to you, UCLA fans. Your references to that vile survey must stop.

    Best regards,

    Ralph Von Albertson, Esq.

    (dictated but not read)

    RVA/ub

    cc: http://www.insidesocal.com/usc

  • spedjones

    tough way to end a fantastic season. Bruins should be proud today, even if a little disappointed.

  • BE REAL

    A little over the top, wouldn’t you say “Ralph,” but the comparison of O.J. getting away with it to the three unfortunate bruins blowing it was kind of funny, in a perverse sort of way.

    And I love how Trojans and bruins are always arguing about who has the most sociopaths on their respective teams. It is a bit like debating who was worse, Hitler or Stalin.

    LAWYER JOHN

  • MichaelRyerson

    R.V.A.esq., you can go blind posting that kind of stuff. ask your mom. (usc’s got a blog? you don’t say? must be popular with all the guys overthere who type with one hand)

  • Clay

    Oh well, UCLA just can’t beat teams bearing the initials “U” “S” and “C” in big games.

  • spedjones

    Stalin was worse, just not as flashy as his evil German counterpart.

  • Hollywood Bruin

    Clay,

    Yeah, I guess romping on USC for 3 straight this season can’t be considered big games given USC was dead last in the Pac.

    Go Bruins

  • VBs Cat

    USC..where ones a gamecock and the other is just well a cock.

    And can i get a cliff notes on Ralphs post?

  • Jayson 94

    VBC,

    Here are the cliff notes:

    Ralph is a loser and Grade-A douche.

  • Coach Thom

    Sorry, but I don’t understand the meaning and/or intent of some of the posts here, so I’ll just wash them from my memory. Jon, you wrote quite an evocative article about the old Omaha stadium. It brought back recollections I have of going to baseball parks when I was a kid. The smell of cigar smoke drifting down from the oldies sitting near the announcer’s booth, a box of Crackerjacks, fans booing the home plate ump, and the sound of ash smashing against leather…somehow I just can’t get used to the ‘boing’ of those metal bats these days. Good one, Jon. Keep up the good work.

  • Watty

    check out this new site I found: topuniversities.com

  • http://http:://topix.com/member/profile/robthebruin BruinRob

    The COCKS reach CLIMAX and the CONDOMS are sluuurrrping it up.

  • Ralph Von Albertson, Esq.

    FROM THE DESK OF RALPH VON ALBERTSON, ESQ.

    Dear Bruin Rob,

    Again, I reach out to you for your own good. Let’s review some of the language from your recent posts. Above, you speak of “cocks,” “climax,” “condoms,” and “slurp,” and over at the USC blog you have been throwing around the term “butt hurt.”

    This much is obvious, sir: you were sexually molested in your youth.

    I am sure it is painful for you to admit it, Rob. Perhaps you’ve even suppressed those memories. But the important thing is, if you are honest with yourself and your family, you can get the therapeutic help you clearly need.

    Even more important is the fact that you may be able to recover substantial sums in compensation from your abuser. I’m talking six-figure settlement, Rob. I do not handle such litigation myself; it is not to my taste. But I can recommend several excellent plaintiff’s attorneys specializing in clergy malfeasance, naughty scoutmasters, and the like.

    For example, you might consider Randy P. Telefonoh, or G.X. Boatshelf. Or, you could just call 1-800-TOUCHED for a referral.

    Please, Rob, if you will just admit the truth, I think all of us who have read your cries of pain on this blog will be ready to help in our own limited ways.

    God bless,

    Ralph Von Albertson, Esq.

  • Big Bruin

    BruinRob is a complete jackass. He does not represent the average UCLA fan. His ramblings and other idiot statements embarass all Bruins. Please do not hold him against us Mr Von Albertson. Though you yourself hale from the 16th best university in the country.

    Go Bruins!

  • Anonymous

    How honored we are to have the owner of Ralph’s, Vons, and Alberton’s grace us with his/her allegedly farm-educated musings. I think you forgot to put Safeway somewhere in your name.

    Shouldn’t you be taking out front pages from all major newspapers to whine about the abomination of how a farm-school got outranked by a hotel on an inconsequential webpage? Heck, since you probably own, or know someone who does, the Internet anyway, why not have that site shut down altogether?

    ’95 and ’99 weren’t even good years for grapes in NorCal.