The South Carolina Gamecocks don’t just look like they’re going to win the College World Series. They look like they’re going to do it in dominant fashion.
The Gamecocks destroyed the UCLA Bruins 7-1 Monday night, behind ace Blake Cooper’s near no-hitter, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three match-up.
The Bruins never looked comfortable against Cooper, managing just a single hit in eight innings before Cooper tired in the ninth as his pitch count rose. Catcher Steve Rodriguez singled in the fifth inning, spoiling Cooper’s chances at immortality.
Save for that one hit, Cooper was flawless through the first eight frames. He entered the game with a 2.86 ERA and a .240 opponents batting average against, but UCLA probably wondered how those numbers got so high.
Cooper walked a single batter and struck out 10 in throwing 89 of his 136 pitches for strikes. Nine of his 10 strikeouts were swinging.
Cooper got plenty of help from his teammates on this night. UCLA’s Gerrit Cole had been holding opponents to a .186 batting average on the season, but he allowed six runs–four earned–on 11 hits in seven innings. Every Gamecock had a hit.
Bobby Haney was the offensive star, driving in three runs. His two-run single in the third broke the game open and made it 5-0. He added a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
The only real Bruin rally came far too late. In the 9th, with Cooper tired after throwing 122 pitches, Cody Regis led off with a single and Marc Navarro walked. Jeff Gelalich singled to chase Cooper and load the bases with no-one out.
But as quickly as the rally started, it ended. Trevor Brown grounded into a double play, and while that plated the only UCLA run, all the Bruin momentum was stopped. Justin Uribe flew out to end the game.
South Carolina has a shot to win the title tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
See Patrick’s complete coverage of the 2010 College World Series.
Image via MLB.com