COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina is heading back to Omaha. The Gamecocks combined for five runs in the seventh and eighth innings en route to pulling away from Oklahoma for a 5-1 victory on Monday in the NCAA Columbia Super Regional at Carolina Stadium.
With the win, South Carolina (45-17) advances to the College World Series where it will play for its third straight national title at the TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The Gamecocks will face a familiar opponent in SEC foe Florida to open the World Series, which runs June 15-26. The Gamecocks are making their sixth trip to the College World Series under head coach Ray Tanner and their 11th all-time.
Carolina has now won a NCAA record 21 straight NCAA Tournament games. The Gamecocks have also won 24 consecutive postseason games at home, including a 13-0 mark at Carolina Stadium. With the loss, Oklahoma wraps up its stellar season with a record of 42-25.
In a game that took two days to complete because of heavy rain in the area, the Gamecocks' bats came alive on Monday as they scored all five runs and tallied five of their eight hits. Junior LB Dantzler and freshman Tanner English contributed two hits apiece to lead the way, while junior Chase Vergason delivered a key two-run double. Freshman Joey Pankake, senior Adam Matthews and freshman Connor Bright also had one hit each.
The Sooners managed just three hits for the contest, which tied for their second lowest output of the season. Evan Mistich led the way with a RBI single, while Erik Ross and Max White each had a single.
The Gamecock pitching staff combined to put together another solid postseason outing, giving up only one run and striking out nine batters. Junior Tyler Webb (6-1) earned the win after striking out two and walking three in a scoreless inning of work. Junior Matt Price toed the rubber for the final three innings to pick up his 11th save of the season, surrendering just two hits and fanning four batters. The save was the 41st of his career, which ties Georgia's Joshua Fields (2005-08) for the SEC career record and moves him into a tie for eighth on the NCAA career saves list.
Not to be overshadowed is the start junior Colby Holmes gave the Gamecocks on Sunday before weather suspended the game. Holmes allowed only one hit and struck out three in five scoreless innings on the mound.
Oklahoma reliever Steven Okert (9-8) worked all three innings on Monday and was tagged with the loss after giving up five runs (four earned) and five hits.
The teams played to a scoreless tie through the top of the sixth before Oklahoma threatened in the home half of the inning. After loading the bases with back-to-back two-out walks, Webb went up against Cody Reine in a lengthy at bat and was able to get him to fly out to right to end the threat.
For the fifth time this postseason, the Gamecocks were the first to score as they manufactured a pair of runs in the seventh. Bright delivered a leadoff double to right field. English then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw by Oklahoma's first baseman sailed into the stands in left field, allowing pinch runner TJ Costen to score and English to advance to second. After moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Vergason, English raced home on a wild pitch by Okert to give Carolina a 2-0 lead.
The Sooners trimmed Carolina's lead to 2-1 in the home half of the seventh. Jack Mayfield and Garrett Carey drew back-to-back walks to lead things off. They attempted a double steal during the following at bat, but Gamecock catcher Dante Rosenberg threw out Mayfield at third. Mistich followed with a single to shallow right, driving in Carey for Oklahoma's only run.
South Carolina took control of the game in the eighth with a three-run inning. After Matthews and Dantzler came through with back-to-back one-out singles, English perfectly placed a bunt single past the pitcher's mound to score Matthews. Vergason then ripped a double to the gap in left center, clearing the bases to give the Gamecocks a 5-1 advantage.
Price took care of the rest as he allowed just one hit in the final two innings and struck out three batters, including a strikeout of Dylan Neal for the final out.
Dates, game times and television information for the College World Series will be announced as it becomes available. Stay with GamecocksOnline.com for updates.