COLUMBIA -- South Carolina's baseball team talked this week about turning the page from the 2010 national championship run, making this season about this season.
Fair enough, but the 2011 version of the Gamecocks sure seemed to have the same flair for the dramatic that the 2010 bunch did.
Santa Clara scored three runs in the eighth to cut South Carolina's lead to one, but the Gamecocks responded with six runs in the bottom of the inning for a 12-5 victory at sold-out Carolina Stadium on a spectacular 75-degree day.
Cleanup hitter Christian Walker hit a three-run home run and No. 9 hitter Scott Wingo added a two-run shot in the eighth. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. picked up where he left off in Omaha with a 4-for-4 day that included a two-run home run and two doubles.
The afternoon got going with a military flyover and members of the national championship team raising a flag to commemorate the title beyond the center field wall.
"I know it got very tight there in the eighth," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said, "but I thought it was a good day and a good win."
With USC up 6-2 in the top of the eighth, reliever Steven Neff gave up six consecutive singles that led to three Santa Clara runs. Tanner contends Neff wasn't pitching all that poorly. He instead credited the Broncos (0-1) for what they did at the plate.
With the tying run on third and one out, Tanner and pitching coach Jerry Meyers turned to John Taylor. Taylor got Santa Clara catcher Quinton Perry to ground sharply into an inning-ending double play, with shortstop Peter Mooney turning to second baseman Scott Wingo to Walker at first.
"I think that's what they brought me in for," Taylor said. "The groundball just happened to go right at Mooney."
The Gamecocks (1-0) rode the momentum into the home half of the eighth. Adam Matthews led off with a walk and then Bradley dragged out an 11-pitch at-bat that eventually ended with Bradley lacing his second double of the afternoon into the right-field gap.
Broncos third baseman Kyle DeMerritt dropped a popup in foul ground earlier in Bradley's at-bat, giving the College World Series' Most Outstanding Player another swing. Soon after, Bradley connected on his fourth hit in five trips to the plate. The preseason All-American was a triple away from the cycle by his fourth plate appearance, a walk.
"I'm not surprised," Tanner said. "Even the good ones make outs; he didn't make an out today. It was a special game for him on opening day."
Walker immediately followed Bradley with a three-run shot into the visitors' bullpen, beyond the right-center-field fence. That effectively sealed the game.
"I just wanted to help the team out," Walker said. "I felt like I owed it to them to score a couple of runs."
Wingo flirted with a home run earlier in the game before his wind-aided one down the right field line that capped the big inning.
Although it got close for him in the eighth, Michael Roth still earned the victory after going 5 2/3 innings. Roth, one of the Omaha heroes, gave up two earned runs on four hits, notching a career-high six strikeouts.
Left-hander Tyler Webb will start the second game of the series, today at 3 p.m. Left-hander Adam Westmoreland will start game No. 3, Sunday at 1:30 p.m.