Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Merrifield delivers for the Gamecocks

Bill Merrifield got the job done for the 1980 Rocky Mount Gryphons with winning a state baseball title. But he couldn't lead his Wake Forest college teams to an NCAA championship.

His son Whit, a junior, got that job done last night as his single to right in the 11th inning knocked in the winning run to give South Carolina a 2-1 win over UCLA in the final national title game at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Ironically, Wake Forest is the only ACC school ever to win a national baseball title - and USC is a former ACC member.

It's South Carolina's first national championship after previous NCAA title appearances in 1975, 1977 and 2002. The Gamecocks beat the Bruins on Monday 7-1 to go up 1-0 in the title series.

South Carolina finishes the year 54-16. UCLA ends its season 51-17.

I talked to both Merrifields the summer before Wes' freshman season and I wondered why he didn't go to Wake - like his dad. After all, dad Bill is still involved with Wake as a vice president of ISP Sports.

Whit said he wanted to make his own mark, which would have been pretty tough after his dad had been a two-time ACC Player of the Year and voted to Wake Forest's Sports Hall of Fame.

In May of 2007, he said the following in an interview with about his goals in life.

"Well, my first goal in life is to raise a loving family and be a great dad. My second goal is to graduate from USC with a degree in whatever I choose to major in. Then, I think like any baseball player, my long term goal is to make it to the big leagues.

"But first I want to go to USC and earn a starting job and work from there. I want to know that when I hang up my cleats, even if I didn't reach my goal, I know that nobody worked harder than me and I did all I could to reach my goal. But I look forward to a long career in baseball and feel like God has blessed me with enough talent to reach my goals. So I am excited to see what the future has to hold for me."

We've seen a portion of his future and it's pretty bright.

After last night, I'd say he's made his mark at South Carolina.

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