In 2010, right around this time, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Whit Merrifield led the South Carolina Gamecocks to a College World Series championship.
The Gamecocks outfielders combined for 26 home runs, 14 stolen bases and 102 RBIs over the course of the championship season.
Bradley, who was a year behind Merrifield in school, said Merrifield was capable of doing it all on the baseball field.
“His ability to adapt to any given situation was great because he could be whatever you needed him to be,” said Bradley, who is now the Boston Red Sox’s center fielder. “He was the leadoff hitter, he could bat second, he could hit for power if he wanted to, he could drive in runs and he could steal you bases.
“(Whit) was always a guy who could do it all.”
Bradley, who broke into the majors in 2013, said Merrifield’s intangibles will help him see continued success as a Royal.
“He’s very athletic and he’s very talented, but he’s also very smart and knows the game extremely well,” Bradley said. “I expect him to continuously succeed … that’s what he has done his whole life and I don’t see anything deviating from that.”
Flash forward seven years to Monday night’s contest between the Red Sox and Royals. Merrifield and Bradley once again played a pivotal role in the game’s outcome.
In the top of the fourth inning, Bradley flashed Merrifield a smile as he rounded first base after tying the game at 2-2 on his ninth home run of the season.
But in the bottom of the seventh, with the score still locked at 2-2, Merrifield got the last laugh as he knocked in the game-winning run with an RBI single.
The Royals went on to defeat the Red Sox 4-2 in game one of a three-game series.