If you've followed South Carolina baseball the last three years, you probably haven't got a fingernail left worth gnawing on, because there's been drama dripping off every pitch of every elongated inning since they nearly stopped my monthly poker game while beating Oklahoma back in 2010. While giving props to Arizona's Wildcats for the 4-1 victory that ended USC's attempt to become first three-in-a-row champs since that west coast USC version of legend did it in the 1970s, this team staked an entire state to a ration of pride it probably didn't know was available.
While some will opine that a team with five freshman was lucky to be in the CWS and Arizona was stacked with already drafted players, the most profound thought in Omaha came from Arizona coach Andy Lopez.
"If we get ahead we're going to keep trying to score more--we're not just going to see if USC catches us," was the gist of things, and nothing could have been closer to the Truth. South Carolina caught about EVERYONE along the way, and even if you realllllly had to push a Gamecock fan to express the notion their boys were #1, they'd smile while telling you that driving a stake through USC's collective heart was the only way to make sure they wouldn't somehow getcha in the end. Down three runs in the ninth vs. Arizona, USC loaded the bases, with only a great defensive play on a line drive keeping the game from edging closer to Miracle Time. Any other team with a .197 BA and 11 runs over their last five games would've been watching the weekend games on TV, but USC has seemed to thrive on pressure.
I facilitated a HOBY(Hugh O'Brian Youth) leadership seminar this past weekend, and Friday night there was a terrific DJ blasting tunes for 125 jumping juniors-to-be at one end of the Erskine College cafeteria. At the other end about twenty, including several young ladies, kept their eyes glued to the big screen TV where USC eventually scratched out a comeback win against Arkansas. Good looking girls and hot music or money on the table poker just don't have what it takes to beat those Gamecocks.
Guess ARIZONA was the only people who finally had the right stakes.