Never-say-die attitude boosts Gamecocks

South Carolina pitcher Blake Cooper and the Gamecocks face Oklahoma in the College World Series on Sunday at 2 p.m. (ESPN).on ESPN.

Not only did South Carolina find a way to get back to its ninth College World Series in the program's history, but it also made some lasting memories along the way.

Gamecocks fans will always instantly recall two signature moments in their team's super regional victory against Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach.

Saturday, USC closer Matt Price was asked to come on in a one-run game with the bases loaded and none out.

Price struck out two and got a groundout to keep the score 4-3, which was the final.

Sunday, the Gamecocks trailed by two runs and had just four outs left after Whit Merrifield grounded into an emotion-draining double play.

There were two outs in the eighth, and USC had nothing going on.

But Jackie Bradley Jr. forced a walk against tiring Coastal closer Austin Fleet. Then Adrian Morales smacked a first-pitch double down the left-field line, putting runners at second and third with two down for freshman Christian Walker.

Walker looks the part of a 60-home run hitter, but he had hit just six out of the park when he strode to the plate Sunday.

He fell behind 0-2 to Fleet, forcing USC fans to brace for the worst. After a ball outside, a 1-2 slider seemed to hang over the plate for days.

Walker connected, belting it over the stands in left-center field for the runs to make it a 10-9 Gamecocks lead.

Price came on to pitch a perfect ninth to get his ninth save of the year, and second in two days at the super regional.

Price and Walker -- both freshmen, Price a redshirt one from Sumter and Walker a true one from Pennsylvania -- had provided the moments to savor.

From the game's first minutes, it didn't appear as if it would be South Carolina's day. Junior right-hander Sam Dyson was very hittable, lasting only into the second inning and putting a heavy tax on USC's bullpen -- and offense.

"It didn't feel good the whole day," Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. "We were playing uphill the entire day. A lot of guys were trying to fight in there, and that's all you can do when you have a day like that. You can't let it go."

Dyson's early exit meant the bats would have to pull the team through, as they eventually did. Saturday, USC was 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and the pitching -- namely, Price and starter Blake Cooper -- had to save the day.

It's an indication of South Carolina's find-a-way-to-win attitude -- one that carried the Gamecocks to seven consecutive SEC series wins and 48 overall wins heading into Omaha.

USC included, six teams had punched their tickets to Omaha by late Sunday night. But the Gamecocks' opponent had not. USC will play Oklahoma, which beat Virginia on Monday..

The memories from the weekend will likely prove just as haunting for Coastal Carolina as they'll be enduringly positive for the Gamecocks.

The Chanticleers, 55-8 coming into this weekend, had their chances to win. For the third time in a super regional since 2005, they couldn't get the two necessary wins.

Their leads in Sunday's game, actually, were their first in super regional play. They were behind for the entirety of their series at Arizona State in 2005 and North Carolina in 2008.

For a long period of time Sunday, right up until Walker's home run, it appeared the Chants would force a deciding game Monday. Coastal Carolina could have then turned to one of its aces, Anthony Meo, in a winner-take-all scenario.

Instead, the wait for validation and a first CWS trip continues.

"We thought we had the game won," Coastal second baseman Tommy La Stella said. "This is devastating for our whole team and program."

Cooper update

Good news for the Gamecocks: USC said Monday that Cooper's pitching hand is bruised but has no fractures.

The senior's right hand was hit by a foul liner after he'd come out of Saturday's game. He had a small wrap on it after the game but no ice. School officials didn't seem overly concerned Sunday when asked about the injury, saying Cooper had yet to have an X-ray exam.

A release Monday said Cooper is expected to start the team's opening game in Omaha.