2011 Divison 1 champions
The South Carolina Gamecocks are looking to head back to the College World Series for a third consecutive time. The last time this happened was 2002, 2003, and 2004.The SEC East champions have won their last 11 College World Series games.
They have appeared in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament a total of 28 times. Of all SEC schools, South Carolina has made 13 consecutive trips to the Tournament, which is the longest streak. The Gamecocks have made it to the NCAA Super Regionals nine times.
Even though the Gamecocks lost Jackie Bradley, Jr., Scott Wingo, and Whit Merrifield among others, the 2012 Gamecocks can make a third straight trip to the College World Series.
Before we start with the seven reasons why the Gamecocks can repeat, we'll start with an honorable mention:
Gamecocks fans know the legend that is Reptar. He is the betta fish belonging to LB Dantzler. And yes, he is named for Tommy Pickles' toy from the cartoon "Rugrats." Fans know Reptar's story. Dantzler decided to bring Reptar along on a road trip to Auburn. Dantzler and his teammates started hitting well and #FeartheFish was born. The Gamecocks of 2010 had the spirit stick. This year, South Carolina has Reptar.
The regionals are taking place on the Gamecocks' home turf: Carolina Stadium. Having the Gamecocks fans in their own stadium will be a big boost for the team. As someone who has been to several games, I can attest to the fans being a vocal bunch. They love to root for the Garnet and Black.
And the Gamecocks won 27 games at home this season. If they progress through the regionals having home-field advantage should prove very beneficial.
Gamecocks on the defense.
The Gamecocks lead the league in defense (.980) going into the final series of the season against LSU. However, they had their share of miscues and fielding errors throughout the season. They also made four errors in their last ten games.
Obviously, the Gamecocks need to play defense as slickly as possible. They need to be patient and not overrun balls, overthrow their cutoff man and make clean grabs.
Fundamentals seem easy but with emotions running high, it can get messy fast.
Ray Tanner and Chad Holbrook have done an excellent job again this season. The Gamecocks finished 40-17 on the year.
Tanner has led his team to the College World Series five times in ten years. Under his reign as coach, the Gamecocks have appeared in the NCAA tournament 14 times and gone to the regionals nine times.
Last year, Holbrook was named the 2011 Assistant Coach of the Year by American Baseball Coaches Association/Baseball America.
Together, this duo can guide the Gamecocks to a three-peat.
2011 College World Series champions
The Gamecocks have been to and won the College World Series twice.
In a row.
That will most definitely help their campaign to get there a third straight time. Yes, a few of the players would be going for the first time. But, they have Michael Roth, Christian Walker and other players to help them prepare. Ray Tanner and Chad Holbrook are experienced coaches to guide them as well.
The last time the Gamecocks went to the College World Series three consecutive times was 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Experience can go a long way.
Too bad Michael Roth can’t start every game. Something about not being a robot. Luckily, Roth has solid help.
Both Roth and Colby Holmes had six wins and one loss.
Roth: 2.58 ERA/101 IP/75 K
Holmes: 3.39 ERA/61 IP/49 K
Price: 4-4/3.68 ERA/10 SV/63.2 IP/74 K
Webb: 5-1/1.96 ERA/2 SV/41.1 IP/40 K
They have a great staff of starters and relievers. The Gamecocks need their starters to go as long as possible as well as minimize the number of home runs allowed.
Roth may not be a robot, but he is one of their MVPs. He has carried this team on his back more than once. He does it on the mound and at the plate. Not to mention the classroom. He was won multiple awards on and off the field during his career at South Carolina. The most prestigious being the 2012 President’s Award, which is the highest award given to a student-athlete.
Last year, he had a 1.06 ERA. This year, it went up quite a bit (2.58). Still a very good ERA. Offensively, he batted .200 with 4 RBI, 4 walks and a .267 OBP.
Roth is quite possibly the most important player on the team.
The No. 1 reason the Gamecocks will repeat as College World Series champions is because of their offense.
Evan Marzilli reached base in 31 consecutive games. Five other players reached base in consecutive games ten times or more. Marzilli and Joey Pankake both had nine game hitting streaks. Twelve Gamecocks had hitting streaks of four games or more.
Christian Walker, Tanner English, and Kyle Martin all hit over .300 this season. Walker led the team in home runs (10), RBI (51), SLG percentage (.551), and OBP (.456).
The Gamecocks have the ability to repeat with this lineup.