Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Year, Another National Championship

Ho hum. Didn't we do this last year?

From Gamecocks Online, the official website of University of South Carolina athletics:

Gamecocks Capture Back-to-Back National Titles With 5-2 Win Over Florida:
Carolina Sets NCAA Division I Record with 16 Straight Postseason Wins
June 28, 2011

The South Carolina Gamecocks rode the stellar pitching of Michael Roth to defeat the Florida Gators, 5-2, and sweep the best-of-three College World Series Championship Series Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha in front of an announced crowd of 26,721. The win gave the Gamecocks back-to-back National Championships in Division I College Baseball.

The Gamecocks (55-14) broke out in front in the bottom of the third inning when they sent eight men to the plate, scoring three times off Florida starter Karsten Whitson (8-1). Peter Mooney led off the frame with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on Robert Beary's sacrifice bunt. After Evan Marzilli walked, Scott Wingo lofted a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Mooney with the game's first run. After Jackie Bradley Jr. walked, Christian Walker's bouncer to short eluded Nolan Fontana and rolled into centerfield for an error, allowing Marzilli to score and sending Bradley to third. Brady Thomas chopped an infield single over the pitcher's mound, scoring Bradley Jr. and putting Carolina on top 3-0.

Florida (53-19) answered with a single run in the top of the fourth. Mike Zunino led off the inning with a home run over the left field wall. The solo blast was his team-leading 19th round tripper and just the third home run allowed by Roth all season. Zunino had three of the Gators' six hits on the night.

The Gators had chances to get closer when they put their first two batters on base in both the fifth and sixth innings, but Roth was able to work his way out the jams unscathed.

South Carolina got an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Mooney crushed a 3-1 offering from reliever Tommy Toledo into the Gator bullpen beyond the right field wall for his fourth home run of the season, giving the Gamecocks a 4-1 advantage. Mooney's round tripper was the only home run hit by the Gamecocks in their five-game stay in Omaha.

Florida cut the deficit to 4-2 with a run in the top of the eighth. Zunino doubled to center off Roth and scored on John Adams' two-out single off reliever John Taylor, but Matt Price caught pinch-hitter Tyler Thompson looking to end the uprising.

Carolina came right back with one of its own in the bottom of the frame. Beary singled to center, moved to second on Marzilli's sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Wingo's bouncer to right over the pulled-in infield.

Roth (14-3) was lifted after 7.2 innings of work. The junior southpaw allowed just five hits and two runs with two walks and six strikeouts. He threw 127 pitches, 77 for strikes. In 38.1 innings of work over the past two years at the College World Series, Roth has posted a 1.17 ERA, second-best all-time. Price worked the final 1.1 innings for his 20th save of the season.

The Gamecocks, who entered the tournament as the number four national seed, have now established NCAA records with 16 consecutive postseason wins and 11 consecutive wins in the College World Series. While in Omaha, South Carolina defeated Texas A&M, number one seed Virginia twice, and number two seed Florida twice without a loss.

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All kidding aside, I never thought I'd live to see the day Carolina was national champions of anything, let alone BACK TO BACK national champions in a major sport.

Well done, fellas! Congratulations to the 2011 NCAA baseball CHAMPIONS! Go 'Cocks!

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