South Carolina's initial lineup for the first game of the College World Series finals came out around 7 p.m. Monday, and Gamecocks first baseman Christian Walker was not in it. That changed in the next few minutes, though, after Walker took batting practice.
Despite a fractured bone in his left wrist, the lineup was adjusted to have the sophomore star batting third and playing first -- as usual.
"It's miraculous," USC coach Ray Tanner said during the pregame radio show. "He's fine. I know he's probably not 100 percent, but he's good to go."
Almost unbelievably, Walker doubled in his first at-bat against Florida ace Hudson Randall.
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Entering the game, the Limerick, Pa., slugger led the Gamecocks in average (.355), home runs (10) and RBIs (62).
Walker injured the wrist swinging Friday night during an at-bat late in South Carolina's 13-inning victory against Virginia. He tried to take batting practice Sunday, but could not continue after one swing. That's when Tanner revealed Walker was injured.
When batting practice began Monday, Michael Roth and Steven Neff were fielding ground balls at first base. Roth was listed as the starter at first base in the initial lineup. The ace pitcher, with 13 victories and a 0.98 ERA, was scheduled to bat ninth.
Walker, then, emerged from the tunnel with a bat and began getting loose in the dugout. After meeting with trainer Brainard Cooper and Tanner, Walker stepped in the batting cage and took his first swing. It was a home run that barely cleared the wall in left field.
Walker went on to hit four more homers in batting practice, one of them soaring over the 375-foot mark in left-center field.
"Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time situations," Walker said on Twitter as the team was arriving at the stadium, echoing what he said in the hours before belting a late home run in the super regionals against Connecticut to get USC back to Omaha.
WINGO WOBBLES -- Tanner juggled the lineup some Monday, pushing second baseman Scott Wingo to the leadoff spot and bumping down slumping outfielder Evan Marzilli to ninth.
Wingo, though, struggled against Randall, striking out twice in his first three at-bats against the UF right-hander. Wingo went hitless (0 for 4) in his only other leadoff experience this season, earlier in the year against Furman.
The second baseman went 4 for 4 in the team's CWS opener against Texas A&M, but he has struggled since them.
TAKING THE ADVANTAGE -- South Carolina was the away team for Monday's opening game, but the Gamecocks will be the home team for Tuesday's Game 2 - and a third game, should the series go the distance.
USC has worn its gray and black "Yankees" uniforms as the road team and its pinstripes uniforms as the home team.