South Carolina's run as national champions is over. Arizona proved too much for the Gamecocks, sweeping the series by scores of 5-1 and 4-1. In the clinching game, South Carolina kept it close for most of the evening on the strength of Michael Roth's impressive start, but the Wildcats offense broke a tie by getting to Matt Price and Tyler Webb in a three-run ninth inning. Carolina had some chances to score runs when it had a man on third in the eighth and bases loaded in the ninth, but it didn't score either time, partly due to some impressive defensive play from the Wildcats. This South Carolina fan tips his hat to Andy Lopez and his squad, who were clearly the best team in this year's field. They're deserving champions.
Some will point to the law of averages finally catching up Matt Price and the Carolina bullpen in the CWS as the key factor in tonight's loss, but from my vantage, Carolina's offensive woes are what set these two teams apart. Going up against a team that regularly scores in the ten-run range and that has most of its lineup hitting over .300, the Carolina pitching staff did what it could to keep these two games from getting out of hand. The Carolina offense wasn't up to the task of keeping up, though. A lot of credit goes to the Arizona pitching staff, but it should be recognized that Arizona never had to pitch its ace in the series. Although UA starter James Farris pitched well tonight, I didn't see anything from him that made me think that he was unhittable, and Matthew Troupe, who came in for the save, walked several batters into scoring position. Unfortunately, Carolina watched too many meatballs on the first pitch and got under and popped up too many balls to ever take advantage. Outside a couple of batters (Christian Walker impressed me again tonight), we just didn't hit the ball well at all in this series, and that was the major issue here.
All of that said, this team has nothing to be ashamed of. When you're the defending champions, you're not playing for second place, so I don't expect our guys to take much consolation in this, but this was a very young team that overachieved all year. Getting this far was a major accomplishment and speaks to the program's standing in the sport. Those of you who watched the post-game festivities got to hear Lopez call South Carolina a dynasty and one of the best programs in the nation. It's good to hear your program talked about in that way, and with a lot of talent coming back next year, we'll be back to Omaha in no time. Go 'Cocks!