OMAHA, Neb. -- Facing No. 1 teams is getting to be no big deal for South Carolina -- in the College World Series or elsewhere.
The Gamecocks scored six runs in the first four innings and had an easy time Tuesday night with the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, Virginia, in a 7-1 victory in front of 22,027 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.
USC registered 13 hits, held the Cavaliers to five and played spectacular defense all night.
"We played probably one of our better games of the year," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "We needed it tonight playing a team the caliber of Virginia. We really probably can't play any better than that."
Christian Walker drove in a pair of runs, and Adrian Morales and Brady Thomas had three-hit nights.
John Taylor, who worked 4 1/3 innings in relief without giving up a run, picked up his seventh win of the season. Taylor induced an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, stemming Virginia momentum.
USC is now 5-2 this season against No. 1-ranked teams, including series wins against SEC East rivals Florida and Vanderbilt -- both of which are still alive in the CWS. The Gamecocks also eliminated then-No. 1 Arizona State here last season.
South Carolina (52-14), winners of eight straight in Omaha and a record 13 consecutive NCAA tournament games, will now wait until Friday for its next game. The Gamecocks will face the winner of Thursday's elimination game between Cal and Virginia (55-11).
The winner of that game would then have to defeat South Carolina twice, on Friday and Saturday, to prevent the defending champs from returning to the best-of-three finals.
As comfortable as being 2-0 might feel, USC needs only to look at its own story from a year ago as a cautionary tale. The Gamecocks, who lost their opener in 2010, defeated Oklahoma and Clemson (twice) to improbably get to the final series, which it won in two games.
"Everybody's of course trying to be 2-0," said center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who had two hits in his second game back from a wrist injury that had kept him out since April. "It puts you in a good spot, but we know we're a long ways from where we need to be. It's early, but we're in a good situation."
The game's start was delayed 68 minutes by rain, and only one team looked ready to go once the hiatus was complete.
A fielding error by Virginia third baseman Steven Proscia prolonged the first inning, leading to a three-run outburst by the Gamecocks, who had trailed early throughout much of the NCAA tournament.
The Cavaliers, with a .980 fielding percentage entering the CWS, committed two errors in the inning and three in the game. USC had none.
"If I make that play in the first inning, it could have changed the complexion of the game," Proscia said. "It could have been a totally different game."
Bradley Jr., batting cleanup, doubled to the right-field gap to score a run. Morales followed with an RBI single. Thomas, dropped from fourth to sixth in the order, then doubled off the wall in center. The sixth-year senior had been hitless in seven of his past 12 starts.
With 13 hits and seven RBIs by six different players, USC clearly clicked at the plate. But several sparkling plays in the field -- including that 1-2-3 double play and a near 4-6-3 gem by Scott Wingo and Peter Mooney in the seventh -- also characterized the Gamecocks' all-around play.
"South Carolina, really, quite frankly, beat us in every phase of the game," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "Overall, we just didn't do the fundamental things it takes to win a baseball game at this level. South Carolina did."
The Gamecocks say it's coincidence they rolled out one of their best games against a No. 1. But that 5-2 record does not feel all that coincidental. South Carolina has saved its best for the best.
"We pretty much maxed out in every category we could," Bradley said.