As dominant as the Arizona Wildcats have been throughout the NCAA tournament and College World Series, the South Carolina Gamecocks are right where they want to be.
After losing Game 1 of the College World Series, 5-1, South Carolina is staring elimination square in the face. Some teams would start feeling the pressure and start playing tighter, but the Gamecocks have walked a tightrope since the action has shifted to Omaha.
Just last week, South Carolina played three elimination games in a two-day stretch. The Gamecocks defeated Kent State, the darlings of Omaha, on Thursday. That victory earned them the right to play Arkansas on Thursday night. They wound up winning that game and Friday's game to get to this point.
I don't think there is some magic formula that the Gamecocks are working with right now. They have built a great baseball program and are perfectly capable of winning these series in less-than-dramatic fashion. They just seem to prefer their backs against the wall.
What Is More Impressive?
The only advantage that Arizona has over South Carolina in this series is starting pitching. South Carolina's lineup may not be as consistent top to bottom as Arizona's, but there is more power and patience, particularly in the middle, that makes South Carolina dangerous.
Arizona knows that it can't go to its bullpen in order to win this series. Arizona coach Andy Lopez has said that he is going to ride the starters as far as he can in every single game. So far, it has worked to perfection.
In Game 2, however, I think you are going to see a very different approach from South Carolina at the plate. Look for something similar to what they did against Arkansas in the second game of that series, when the Gamecocks were not swinging at anything out of the zone.
I believe that Arizona is playing better right now and will eventually win the series, but Game 2 is going to be all about South Carolina. This series just feels like it is going to the distance.
South Carolina has a habit of emerging from the rubble as things collapse around them. They will do it one more time.