College World Series
Friday, December 26
SOUTH CAROLINA 5, CS FULLERTON 3
OMAHA, Nebraska (Ticker) -- South Carolina is thinking revenge over reunion. The Gamecocks staved off elimination at the College World Series, getting three RBI from Bryan Triplett and three scoreless innings from closer Chad Blackwell en route to a 5-3 victory over Cal State Fullerton. Triplett stroked a two-run homer in the third inning and a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh, helping South Carolina (53-16) to its third straight win and a decisive game in the CWS semifinal. The teams meet again Thursday night at Rosenblatt Stadium for the right to face Texas in the finals. "These last three games, we've taken some good hacks, and we're going to take that same approach tomorrow," South Carolina catcher Landon Powell said. The Gamecocks are thinking revenge after losing the 2002 championship to Texas. But the Titans (44-22) are looking to face former coach Augie Garrido, who won national titles with CS Fullerton in 1979, 1984 and 1995. Triplett snapped a 3-3 tie with an RBI single in the seventh. Steve Pearce added one of his three hits, a run-scoring single, to make it 5-3. That was enough for the Gamecocks, who turned over the ball to Blackwell. The righthander fired three innings for his nation-leading 20th save, allowing just a walk while striking out two. "Three innings is a little bit long for a closer, but if you don't win, you don't play," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "He's the nation's leader in saves, so we gave him the ball." Jason Fletcher (6-1) earned the win after yielding three runs and five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings. Fletcher and Blackwell combined to retire 16 of the last 17 Gamecocks. "It's every kid's dream to be out there in that situation," Fletcher said. "When I found out last night I was going to start, I had chill bumps all night." Mike Martinez (8-3) took the loss, allowing five runs and 11 hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. "We got outplayed, plain and simple," Fullerton coach George Horton said. "We got some things going early, but then Fletcher and Blackwell shut us down." Felipe Garcia doubled home a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to stake Martinez to a 2-0 lead. Brendan Winn halved South Carolina's deficit with an RBI hit in the second and Triplett belted a two-run homer in the third for a 3-2 lead. The Titans got even in the fourth on an RBI bunt single by Ronnie Prettyman, but that was their last hit. CS Fullerton is hoping to avoid duplicating last year's performance, when it won its first two games in Omaha before dropping two straight. "It hasn't been easy," Titans catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "We're just looking forward to tomorrow. We've been in this situation before. Hopefully, tomorrow will be our day." Rosenblatt Stadium set a CWS attendance record with a crowd of 28,216. It was the third-largest to watch a college baseball game.