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South Carolina Opens Championship Series with Victory; One Win Away from First National Title, Much to ESPN's Chagrin

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We're almost there, Gamecocks fans. Carolina just put the finishing touches on a rout of favored UCLA to come within a single victory of the national title. This would be Carolina's first baseball title and, indeed, a rare occurrence in any Carolina sport.

A lot of the credit for the victory goes to starting pitcher Blake Cooper, who turned in a dominant performance. Cooper gave up only two hits and nearly completed a shutout before being taken out after loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth. From there, John Taylor came in and made quick work of the Bruins. Gamecocks fans will savor watching Cooper's performance for years. Cooper has been a great player for us for quite some time now, and he finished his illustrious career with what was perhaps his best performance.

And really, that's been the story for this team. It's saved the best for last. As good as we were this year, we seem to have taken it to another level over the past few games.

Of course, I don't want to push the the idea that we're playing unusually good ball too far, as this team has hung tough all year. That fact would apparently surprise ESPN, which seemed to have already conceded the title to UCLA. A few of the gems made by ESPN's crew (note that these are approximations):

"Cole must be throwing the best nine-hitter I've ever seen."

"It's really kind of shocking that Cooper is outpitching Cole. Who would have expected that? No one even knew who Cooper was before today."

"It's 6-0 but this has been a very even game from where I'm sitting."

"Poor form on stealing that base. South Carolina should be careful not to wake the sleeping giant."

I'm thinking either (1) ESPN's team hasn't watched a single game we've played all season, or (2) headquarters called in and asked them to call the game favorably towards the major-market team. Probably some combination of the two. Whatever it was, it was a pathetic dispaly of sports announcing, although in that sense just another in a long line of affronts to the WWL's integrity.

But I digress. We got the win, and we're now within striking distance of a historic moment for our athletics program. One more, folks, one more. Go 'Cocks.