- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

OMAHA, NEB. (AP) - Injured South Carolina first baseman Christian Walker was back in the lineup for Game 2 of the College World Series on Tuesday night.

“I wasn’t going to play all year and get to this point and not be able to play,” Walker said. “Of course, if I wasn’t going to be able to give 100 percent, I wouldn’t have been in there (Monday). I don’t want to hurt the team in any way, but I felt good enough like I could give them everything I had.”

Walker, who went 2 for 5 and scored the winning run in Monday’s 2-1, 11-inning win over Florida, fractured the hamate bone in his left wrist during his last at-bat against Virginia on Friday.

Two physicians who work with the Gamecocks flew to Omaha to examine and treat Walker.

The doctors told him he couldn’t hurt his wrist any worse if he played. He wears a brace on his left hand and wrist, and he taped the knob of his bat to reduce reverberation when the bat hits the ball.

Walker decided after hitting five home runs in Monday’s batting practice that he could play.

“It just came down to dealing with the pain,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the whole (medical) staff.”

Walker probably will require surgery after the CWS, coach Ray Tanner said.

Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said he’s glad Walker is playing because the .355 hitter is one of the main reasons the Gamecocks have reached the finals.

“We’ve got a great deal of respect for him, and he obviously showed a tremendous amount of toughness,” O’Sullivan said.

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DENT BRINGS HIS BAT: Cody Dent was put in the lineup at the end of the regular season to shore up Florida’s defense at third base.

The sophomore has given the Gators a good glove and unexpected offensive production.

The son of former major leaguer Bucky Dent was batting just .163 when he replaced Zack Powers on May 20. He’s batting .300 since. His .364 average in four CWS games was second on the team entering Game 2 of the finals, behind Bryson Smith’s .400.

Dent has a double and triple, he’s beaten out a bunt for a single and had the sacrifice fly for Florida’s only run on Monday.

“Just been trying to put good at-bats together, not be an easy out,” Dent said. “I do whatever I can to get on base, work the pitcher, do my job at the time whether it’s moving the runner over or moving them in.”

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WATCH PARTY: South Carolina opened its basketball arena Tuesday night to allow fans to watch on the big screens as the baseball team tried to win back-to-back national titles.

The baseball team’s run through two College World Series has been a bright spot in a mostly dreary run for the Gamecocks in major sports.

Last year’s national championship was the first in a men’s sport.

The men’s basketball team hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game in nearly four decades. The football team’s first trip to the Southeastern Conference title game last season ended in a 56-17 loss to Auburn.

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SPIRIT STICK RETIRED: South Carolina’s good luck charm stayed home this year. The Gamecocks in 2010 kept their Avatar Spirit Stick in the dugout as the team rolled to the title.

The stick was the brainchild of senior catcher Robert Beary, who taped a baseball to a fungo bat during a regional rain delay.

The Gamecocks retired the stick to the school trophy case. The Gamecocks won their first four CWS games without it.

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