Gamecocks send Arkansas packing; Advance to the CWS finals
The Gamecocks managed to do the unthinkable, and won three games in 33 hours. First they beat Kent State, then shut out Arkansas. The next night, they went on to play an Arkansas team who wouldn’t go down without a fight.
The Hogs jumped out to an early lead, and for awhile it looked like they were set for a match with Arizona in the final. The Gamecocks finally broke through in the 5th inning on an RBI single from Joey Pankake. Marzilli then walked to load the bases. The Gamecocks tied the game at 2 after Walker walked with the bases loaded. That ended the night for Arkansas starter DJ Baxendale, who threw an outstanding game for the Hogs. Carolina pulled ahead for good in the 7th, as Arkansas once again walked in a run.
This game really could have gone either way. There were more than a few bad calls (for both teams), a tiny strike zone that seemed to change with each pitch, and two teams who desperately wanted to stay in Omaha. Arkansas played an amazing game. The Gamecocks just happened to get lucky enough to win. And so Arkansas heads home and South Carolina is, for the third consecutive year, playing in the CWS final series. This time their opponent is Arizona, a team who has been cruising through the post-season.
Arizona boasts one of the best offenses in the country. South Carolina’s pitching staff is going to need to be flawless to keep the Wildcats’ bats at bay. And the Gamecocks are going to need to find a spark to ignite their own offense if they want to have a chance at repeating again.
It looks like Forrest Koumas will get the start for the Gamecocks tonight. Koumas hasn’t pitched much this year – he battled an elbow injury in the latter part of the season, though he did pitch in the SEC tournament. Koumas has been pretty steady for the Gameocks, and he certainly knows how to pitch in the CWS. Koumas will go up against Konner Wade, who last pitched Sunday against UCLA, when he threw a 5-hit shutout. Between Arizona’s stellar hitting and Wade’s pitching, the Gamecocks may be facing an uphill battle. That, however, hasn’t stopped Carolina yet.