- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2011

OMAHA, Neb. — A Virginia team that took great pride in its defense had its season end at the College World Series on two maddening throwing errors.

Reliever Cody Winiarski botched two throws after fielding consecutive bunts in the bottom of the 13th inning Friday night, allowing pinch-runner Adam Matthews to score the winning run in South Carolina’s 3-2 victory that ended Virginia’s season.

“That was a baseball game of just a lot of emotions, a lot of gut decisions, both teams taking chances at times,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said. “It’s unfortunate that we had to come out on the wrong end of it.”

Defending champion South Carolina’s record 14th straight NCAA tournament win sends the Gamecocks (53-14) back to the CWS’ best-of-three championship round. They will play Southeastern Conference rival Florida (53-17) beginning Monday.

Virginia (56-12) becomes the 12th straight No. 1 national seed to not reach the finals.

The wild finish Friday came after South Carolina closer Matt Price worked out of bases-loaded situations in the 10th, 12th and 13th innings.

Brady Thomas singled leading off the bottom of the 13th against Winiarski. Matthews came in to run and advanced when Winiarski pivoted and threw wildly trying to get him at second on Peter Mooney’s bunt. Robert Beary followed with another bunt. Winiarski tried to get Matthews at third, but the low throw got away from the third baseman, allowing the winning run to score.

“It’s simple. They wanted to get an out (on sacrifices), and we weren’t able to capitalize on that and just take what they were giving to us,” Winiarski said. “Those are plays we practice every day in practice and just didn’t execute.”

The Cavaliers came to Omaha ranked fourth nationally with their .980 fielding percentage. But they committed seven errors in four CWS games.

Winiarski said he thought he could get the lead runner easily on both bunts. He said he didn’t move his feet on the throw to second that ended up in center field.

“It was a ball right to me and should have been executed,” Winiarski said. “We had good coverage.”

His throw to third was too low for Steven Proscia to reel in, and it bounced out of play.

“I don’t know where to begin,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “That game had so much involved in it. This game certainly could have gone either way, and we just kept hanging in there and we were fortunate to get a couple of breaks at the end.”

Winiarski (6-4) relieved Virginia closer Branden Kline starting the bottom of the 13th. Kline threw 107 pitches in five innings of three-hit relief.

Kline and Price engaged in a long battle of closers. Price (7-3) allowed seven hits, walking five and striking out five. Before Friday, Price’s longest outing of the season was three innings.

Price walked David Coleman to start the top of the 13th. Colin Harrington reached on an infield single, and the bases were loaded with no outs when nobody covered first base as Christian Walker fielded Keith Werman’s bunt.

Price struck out Chris Taylor and then caught a huge break when John Barr lined out to second, with Scott Wingo flipping to shortstop Mooney covering the bag to double up Harrington.

“I was like, ‘Here we go again, another jam,’” Price said. “I was trying to work through it, maybe strike the first guy out. and that’s what happened. The next guy hit a rope, and luckily it was right at Wingo and he made a heck of a play.”

Price walked Jared King to load the bases with two outs in the 10th, then struck out pinch-hitter Reed Gragnani. He allowed consecutive singles leading off the 12th, and after an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, he got Shane Halley to ground into a double play.

Kline allowed South Carolina’s first two batters to reach base in the bottom of the 12th before retiring the next three, with right fielder Coleman making a sliding catch of Adrian Morales’ foul ball for the third out.

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