South Carolina right fielder Adam Matthews must keep his hot bat going against Arizona, because if he starts to struggle the Gamecocks will lose.
Matthews isn't the only key player that will either make or break his team's chances to win the 2012 College World Series, though.
Obviously, baseball is a team game, but certain players will always drive their team towards success or failure, depending on how they play. With that in mind, I'll take a look at two players from each team that must play well in order for their team to win.
Adam Matthews, South Carolina
No player has meant more to the Gamecocks' offense since the beginning of June than Matthews.
South Carolina has been involved in some close games, as they have relied more on their strong pitching staff to win games than their offense. Since the beginning of June, Matthews has produced seven RBI—more than any other player for South Carolina.
He hasn't only been driving in runs, but Matthews is also the batter that was at the plate when Arkansas pitcher Barrett Astin walked home the winning run in Friday's eventual 3-2 win.
Matthews must continue his strong play at the plate for the Gamecocks to realize their third CWS title in a row.
Bobby Brown, Arizona
The first three games of the regionals featured an offensive explosion of 48 runs for the Wildcats. Since then, though, runs have been harder to come by.
Brown, the designated hitter for the Wildcats, has been their most consistent run-producer throughout the CWS. He has driven in 11 runs since June 1, and his team would not be where they are today without his steady production.
The Wildcats aren't as talented on the pitching side of things as the Gamecocks, so Brown is even more crucial to them than Matthews is for South Carolina.
Matt Price, South Carolina
Price set a new CWS record the other night against Arkansas when he won his fifth career CWS game. He's like the Gamecocks' good luck charm, but if he comes up short against Arizona, their luck will run dry.
South Carolina has gotten to where they are on the arms of their pitchers. Unlike Arizona, they don't score in the teens very often, and they need their pitchers, especially Price, to keep their winning streak going.
Kurt Heyer, Arizona
Heyer is the clear No. 1 pitcher for the Wildcats. He has compiled a near-flawless record this year, at 13-2, and his ability to dominate a lineup gives his team a chance to dominate the Gamecocks.
His ERA is equally as stunning, as Heyer only gives up 2.24 runs per nine innings. He also has excellent control of his pitches most of the time, earning a stunning 113-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Heyer must have a dominant series against the Gamecocks to give his team the best chance to win. If he has a bad day and lets South Carolina put up big numbers against his team, they will be scuttled.
Game 1 of the best-of-three series is on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT and airs on ESPN2.