Back to Back for the Garnet & Black!!!!!
We did it y’all. The University of South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Florida Gators to bring home their second consecutive College World Series title. What an amazing piece of history – to win the last CWS ever played at Rosenblatt Stadium, a park steeped in tradition, memory, exultation, and pain, and then to turn around and leave an indelible mark on the history of the new field, TD Ameritrade Park, by becoming not only the first team to win a title there, but to do so in a record-setting and dramatic fashion. After winning the title last year, I said that I had never been more proud to be a Gamecock. Turns out I was wrong. This team, who isn’t necessarily as talented or as deep as last year’s champs, is an inspiration. They’ve battled and won against every bit of adversity thrown in their path. They’ve overcome injuries and insanely good opposing pitching. This team is full of normal guys who fight to do the best they can. Watching every player step up and do more than was expected uncomplainingly was incredible. This brotherhood is a thing that you don’t always see. But this team is family – and they embrace and appreciate every single member of Gamecock Nation who supported them along the way. At this moment, I truly have never been prouder to be a Gamecock.
Let’s recap this game, yeah? Florida came into this contest with a need to win. If the Gators wanted any shot at the title, they had to find a way to beat Carolina. They put freshman pitcher Karsten Whitson on the mound. It was a good choice – Whitson was drafted #9 overall out of high school. He’d been solid for Florida all year. And he was solid last night too. The Gamecocks got lucky when Florida shortstop, Nolan Fontana, made an error in the 3rd inning, that set up a 3 run scoring binge. Florida bounced back with a run in the 4th, to bring the score to 3-1. And that was that. Michael Roth worked out of a few jams for the Gamecocks, and Peter Mooney put a ball into the right field seats to lead of the 6th and put the Gamecocks up 4-1. Florida managed to plate another in the 8th, but it just wasn’t enough. Scott Wingo drove in a run in the bottom of the 8th to give the Gamecocks a little insurance. After that, it was Matt Price time. Price came in and got 3 quick outs to give South Carolina the victory. Final Score: South Carolina 5, Florida 2.
A few random observations: Michael Roth. Somehow, Roth found a way to throw 127 pitches in 7.2 innings. And this was after throwing around 120 in 7 innings against UVA on Friday. His arm must be about to fall off. The thing that set him apart though, was that rather than try to be overly dominant and get a strikeout on every batter, he relied on his defense to make the outs. He has been such a stalwart in the Gamecocks rotation. He’s done everything he’s been asked to do, and then some. I’m 100% sure that his dad doesn’t regret for a second that he quit his job to watch his son pitch in the CWS. He’s thrown 3 memorable games.
Christian Walker. Still has a broken bone in his hand. Was added to the lineup late on Tuesday, even though Coach Tanner said that his hand looked like he was holding a stack of pancakes. He still stepped up at the plate and powered this offense through. He’s been on fire all year, and I, for one am glad that he’ll be back next year.
Matt Price. I don’t think I can even say anything about Price. He’s been lights-out all year. And even though he makes my heart race and makes me feel a little shaky and nervous every time he takes the mound, I don’t doubt his ability to win the game for us.
Scott Wingo. Wingo earned the CWS Most Outstanding Player honors, and he deserves it. Wingo was at the center of just about every big time play that the Gamecocks made throughout the CWS. His defense was stellar and his at bats were always clutch. This kid is one of the greatest things to have every happened to the Carolina baseball team, and he will be sorely missed.
Record Setting. Carolina set a couple records in this tournament. They became only the 9th team to win back-to-back titles. They set the record for most consecutive NCAA Tournament wins with 16, a record that had been held by Texas since 1984. They set the record for most consecutive CWS wins with 11, surpassing both LSU and Southern Cal. The Gamecocks went 10-0 in the NCAA tournament this year, becoming the first team ever to do so. This is also only the second national title for the Gamecocks in a major men’s sport.
And now for some fun tid-bits….
Listen to the final call of the game by Gamecock Radio announcer Andy Demetra here.
Patrick Davis, of “Just a Big Ole Cock” fame, has written another song about the Gamecocks. This one is all about baseball.
Last year, Travis Haney of the Charleston Post & Courier wrote a book about the Championship season called Gamecock Glory. If you order by noon today, Haney will add an inscription and send it from Omaha. You can order it here. And yes, there is a sequel in the works.
7 of the 11 players chosen for the All CWS Team were Gamecocks: Robert Beary, Christian Walker, Scott Wingo, Peter Mooney, Brady Thomas, Michael Roth, and Matt Price. All 11 players were from the SEC, with Florida and Vandy each having 2 representatives.
And last, but not least, there will be a Welcome Home gathering today at the Colonial Life Arena. Doors open at 4, and the team is expected to arrive around 5:30. A replay of last night’s game will be shown, and then members of the team, university, and government will speak. You’ll be able to buy concessions and National Championship memorabilia. This was a pretty fun event last year, so make sure you come out. I’m sure there will be a parade this week too.