South Carolina's Bryan Triplett had a pair of hits and drove in three
runs, including the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, as the No. 3 Gamecocks
staved off elimination with a 5-3 victory over No. 4 Cal State Fullerton
on Wednesday night at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Fullerton fell to 44-22 overall on the season,
snapping its seven-game winning streak and handing the Titans their first
loss of the College World Series. South Carolina improved to 54-16 overall,
and earned a second rematch with Fullerton on Thursday (June 23) at 6
Titan starter Mike Martinez (8-3), making his first career start on the
mound at the College World Series after appearing as a defensive substitution
in 2001, suffered the loss, allowing five runs on 11 hits, walking one
and striking out two.
Jason Fletcher (6-1) earned the win for the Gamecocks, going six innings
and allowing three runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four
-- including one with a pair of runners in scoring position to end the
fourth. It was his second appearance against the Titans in the last four
days, after allowing one hit in 3 1/3 in Saturday's 2-0 Titan victory.
Chad Blackwell earned his nation-leading 20th save of the season, tossing
the final three innings and allowing only a walk.
Four consecutive one-out hits plated the go-ahead runs for South Carolina
in the seventh as Davy Gregg led off with an infield single after Martinez's
throw on Gregg's bunt sailed into right field, allowing Gregg to move
all the way to third.
He was followed by Triplett, who came through with a single through the
left side for the 4-3 lead. He was followed by Steve Tolleson, who singled
on a bunt, and Steve Pearce, who singled to left past a drawn-in infield,
scoring Triplett for the 5-3 advantage.
That was all for Martinez, lifted in favor of Ryan Schreppel, who walked
the first batter he faced to load the bases, but got out of the jam by
getting Kevin Melillo to foul out and Brendan Winn to strike out swinging.
However, that was all the offense the Titans would be able to muster as
Fletcher and Blackwell combined to retire 15 of the final 16 Titans to
come to the plate, allowing only a two-out walk to Danny Dorn in the eighth.
Junior Felipe Garcia got the Titans on the board in the first with a two-run
double to the wall in centerfield, scoring Justin Turner and Kurt Suzuki
for the 2-0 lead.
USC got a run back in the second on a Brendan Winn single and took the
lead in the third when Triplett smacked a two-run home run to left, his
eighth of the year, for the 3-2 advantage.
The Titans tied the game in the fourth when Ronnie Prettyman beat out
an infield bunt down the third base line with runners on the corners,
scoring Garcia with the tying tally. It would be Fullerton's final hit
of the night.
South Carolina's 1-2-3 hitters combined to go 7-for-15 at the plate with
four RBI, including three hits from Pearce. Gregg also had a pair of base
hits on the evening.
Cal State Fullerton was led at the plate by Pilittere, who finished with
EXTRA BASES: Triplett's home run in the third that gave
USC a 3-2 lead marked the first time the Titans have trailed in this College
World Series... Fullerton committed its first error in the College World
Series in the seventh, and only its second in the last (70) innings...
Wednesday's attendance was announced at 28,216 -- the highest attendance
for any session in the history of the College World Series... Cal State
Fullerton stranded just five runners on base, but four were in scoring
position... The Titans have stranded 27 runners in this year's College
World Series, 15 of them in scoring position (55.6%)... South Carolina
stranded 10 runners on base for the game (five in scoring position), including
two or more in three of the final four innings.