Like the rest of us, I've seen the Gamecocks come up just short in innumerable situations. The most agonizing of those have been in football, but it's in many ways been a recurring theme for most of our programs. That's even been true of baseball, which, despite having a storied, consistently successful history, has always come up just short of winning the big one. Although it was a little bit before I began following Carolina closely, the deflation of losing to Texas in 2002 after the euphoria of knocking out Clemson is still fresh in many minds,
History did not repeat itself tonight, though. This time, with a swing of the bat Whit Merrifield made his parents proud and got a clutch hit in the bottom of the eleventh inning, and with that, an underdog Gamecocks team won the program's first national title.
Carolina joins LSU and Georgia as the SEC programs to have the honor of winning a College World Series. Those are athletics programs that, while I may enjoy throwing an occasional barb their way (I'm looking at you, T. Kyle King), I will concede have illustrious histories that make it easier for them to assume championship status. That's not the case for us Gamecocks, who have failed to attain that kind of success. This is a moment that all Carolina fans will savor for a long time, and if more championships come, this is the moment that we'll say began it all.
And the truth is, it couldn't have happened to a better group of baseball players. There's been a feel-good aura around this team all year. Without the luxury of star power, this is a team that's won by playing as a team and getting the right plays at the right time. It's a team that banded together after a demoralizing series of losses leading into the post-season. It's a team that dedicated its victory to cancer victim Bayler Teal.
It's a team that finally brought home the hardware to the most long-suffering fans in college sports. Go 'Cocks.