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Gamecocks Win, 10-2, to Earn Title Shot

June 22, 2002|From Associated Press

OMAHA — Now South Carolina gets to play in the ultimate elimination game.

The Gamecocks clinched a spot in the College World Series championship Friday by defeating state rival Clemson, 10-2, a week after opening the tournament with an 11-0 loss to Georgia Tech.

"We like the city of Omaha, and after we didn't open very well we were doing our best to extend our stay," Coach Ray Tanner said. "We battled back the hard way and now we get a chance to play in the national championship game. It's a tremendous feeling."

The Gamecocks (57-17) defeated their state rivals for the second time in three days and won their fourth elimination game in a row. South Carolina will play Texas (56-15) for the national title today.

Steven Bondurant (7-4) scattered eight hits and struck out seven in his second complete game. He also got unexpected offensive help from the bottom of the batting order. South Carolina's last four batters--Garris Gonce, Brian Buscher, Landon Powell and Kevin Melillo--combined to go nine for 18 with nine runs batted in.

"The guys at the top of the order just needed a little break. They were saving all their hits for tomorrow, so we thought we'd pick them up today," said Gonce, who was three for six with three RBIs.

South Carolina had 13 hits and took advantage of three errors and three wild pitches. The Gamecocks completed a 4-0 run through the CWS that was made necessary after the loss to Georgia Tech in the opener.

USC in 1998 was the last team to lose its opener and make it to the title game. The Trojans won it by defeating Arizona State, 21-14.

Clemson (54-17) opened the CWS 3-0 and needed to beat the Gamecocks only once to advance to the title game, but couldn't do it after going 3-1 against South Carolina during the regular season.

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