These are five reasons that South Carolina will win back-to-back national championships.
1. Leadership and experience.
The following players played in the deciding game against Virginia last Friday, and last year in the deciding game against UCLA that won South Carolina the national championship. Evan Marzilli, Jackie Bradley Jr, Adrian Morales, Scott Wingo, Christian Walker, Brady Thomas, Robert Beary, Adam Matthews, Michael Roth, John Taylor and Matt Price.
That's 11 players that stepped on the field the day that the Gamecocks dog-piled on the field as national champions that return to Omaha to try and start off the new home of the CWS the same way they closed out the hallowed ground at Rosenblatt. That kind of experience shouldn't be overlooked or discounted.
2. Michael Roth
As one of the 11 that plated against UCLA last year in the deciding game, Michael Roth, was the starting pitcher in that game. He went 5 innings, giving up just one run on six hits. Back in March Roth threw 8.1 innings against the Florida team he will face in the next few days and went 8.1 innings, giving up just two runs while striking out six and walking two.
Head Coach Ray Tanner has been non-committal when it comes to when Roth will start in this series. If South Carolina wins game one, we will probably see Roth in game three, if necessary. He'd be coming off three days rest to pitch on Tuesday in game two and coach Tanner is hoping to win the first one so he can have his ace get another days' rest and able to throw in the final.
3. Scott Wingo
Normally you wouldn't think of your 9-hole hitter as a key to winning the championship over your 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup. But it always seems to come down to the guy you wouldn't think of when championships are won. Sure it's nice to have your Dirk Nowitzki (Michael Roth), but who is the JJ Barea or Jason Terry? It's gotta be Wingo. A middle infielder that already has one walk-off hit in this College World Series.His defense may be as important, if not more important, than what he does at the plate.
The better Wingo is at the plate during this series the faster the lineup can change over and allow runners on base for the top of the South Carolina order.
Been there, done that. It's not that South Carolina won't have pressure. But the feeling of playing in the most important games of your life is a feeling that have already dealt with, and been successful with. South Carolina has the edge in a close game, which most likely these will be, and the further the games go into the later innings the better-off the Gamecocks are in dealing with the nerves and feelings the Florida players are feeling for the first time. Although, South Carolina had those first-time feelings last year and they won. So there are two sides to this story.
Bottom line is that South Carolina has a lot of players who've already proved they can do this. Florida has yet to prove they can and both teams know that.
5. Ray Tanner
The South Carolina players can look at their leader and trust that he knows what it takes to win a national championship. It's not as if they didn't already know he was one of the best coaches in the country, it's probably one of the reasons that these players chose to go to South Carolina in the first place. But they can trust the plan and preparation that it has put them in the best possible position to succeed.
Coach Tanner has some pretty tough decisions to make in this series. When do you start Michael Roth and when is Matt Price ready to pitch? They both threw extensively in their win against Virginia on Friday and bringing them back for a game one on Monday would be a tough call. His trust in his other relievers may show its' self in a close game on Monday night if that's the case.