It can't be stressed enough how much better position the South Carolina Gamecocks and Florida Gators find themselves in after winning their first two games in the College World Series. The two days off and the fact that they've both only played two games so far in this tournament makes for a nice rest for their starting pitchers.
For Florida it's Hudson Randall that started the first game for the Gators against Texas last Saturday. He could be available to start on Friday against the winner of the North Carolina-Vanderbilt game being played on Wednesday if they choose to go that way. They'll also have Karsten Whitson available for the game on Saturday (if necessary) coming back on four days rest.
This is a far better situation then what North Carolina or Vanderbilt will have to deal with should they advance in this tournament. The extra days off and the one-less game sets up the staff for Florida to be rested and ready to compete in the best-of-three championship series.
South Carolina is in the same situation and they also have something else going for them, besides the 13-consecutive CWS victories streak. They've been here before and they've been successful here before. It's one thing to go to the College World Series every year but if you haven't won a title, then you haven't shown to have the perfect formula for success in Omaha. Every decision that you make affects the outcome and a team that has shown to make the right decisions before has the advantage.
That's not to mention the amount of talent the guys from Columbia have brought with them to Omaha this year. Michael Roth started the first game of the series for the Gamecocks against Texas A&M, and he should be ready to bring his sub-1.00 ERA (.97) with him to start on Friday as well. The Gamecocks will face the winner of the Virgina-California game. John Taylor and Colby Holmes each threw 4.1 innings in their second game against Virginia.
So we're going to jump right ahead and look at the three games that South Carolina and Florida played this year. South Carolina wouldn't be so upset if the three-game series during the season is how a best-of-three championship series could possibly play out next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
South Carolina won game one by a score of 9-2 as Michael Roth went 8.1 innings for South Carolina, giving up just two runs on ten hits to pick up the win. Florida won game two 2-1 on a dominating performance by Hudson Randall, who threw a complete game giving up just five hits and no walks, while striking out four and giving up one unearned run. South Carolina won game three 4-3 behind a pitching-by-committee approach that we might see again here in the College World Series. The Gamecocks scored that 4th run in the 8th inning to break a 3-3 tie on a bases-loaded walk to Adrian Morales.
These two teams look to be on a collision course to meet in the championship series to determine the 2011 national champion. If their series earlier this year in Gainesville is any kind of preview to what we could see next week in Omaha, fans of college baseball are in for a great few days of baseball. Vanderbilt, California, North Carolina and Virginia have something to say about their spot in this series as well. Their roads are much more difficult, but nothing worth-while was ever won without a struggle.