The South Carolina Gamecocks will win their third straight College World Series title against the Arizona Wildcats because of the strength of their pitching staff. It's as simple as this when it comes down to the championship series—pitching means everything.
It's a best-of-three series where the winner of the first game undoubtedly has the advantage and momentum. If you win the first game, all the pressure is put directly on the loser—while you give yourself a bit more breathing room.
The loser of the first game has to play mistake-free baseball for the rest of the series, and that's not a place you want to be at against this South Carolina team.
They've already got two championships in a row under their belt, and they're going for three. If that's not motivation enough to pull of a win, I'm not sure what would be.
That said, it's not like the Wildcats are just going to roll over.
They're a very good team themselves—having won all of their games so far in this tournament while outscoring their opponents by a grand total of 79 to 26. It's obvious they have offensive firepower, and that's what makes pitching integral for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks are going to need to come out strong out of the gate and cool of the Wildcats' bats. That's exactly what they will do.
According to Todd Shanesy of goupstate.com, the Gamecocks will be trotting out lefty Forrest Koumas for Game 1.
While he does have an ERA of 4.56 and has only made three starts, this is the same pitcher who went 5.2 innings and only gave up one run and three hits against Florida in last year's opening game of the championship series.
That experience will be an invaluable difference that will give the Gamecocks' pitching an advantage, and Koumas will be able to rely on that to lead his team to that all important victory.
After that it comes down to closing it out.
South Carolina still has guys like Jordan Montgomery, who went eight innings and allowed no runs against Arkansas last week, Michael Roth, who has a 2.49 ERA , in addition a very strong bullpen to rely on.
The Arizona Wildcats may have a strong offense, but when all is said and done the Gamecocks' pitching is going to baffle them.
They are too good, too experienced and too deep, and that's why I expect them to pull off an incredible three-peat by winning the 2012 College World Series.