Arizona vs. South Carolina: Slow Starts Derailed Three-Peat for Gamecocks
South Carolina failed to three-peat, because Arizona controlled the each game from the beginning.
Despite being the two-time defending champions, the Gamecocks never got into an offensive rhythm during the finals, so the Wildcats offense decided to take the quick advantage instead.
And here's how South Carolina got derailed early on.
For one, the Gamecocks only scored one run in each game of the 2012 College World Series. Coming in, South Carolina had racked up 17 runs in the previous four games, but Arizona was not intimidated.
Well, it all began with South Carolina having gone three-and-out through the first two innings of Game 1 and mustering up just one hit through five. By that time, the Wildcats had already built a 4-0 lead going into the sixth inning.
Looking at Game 2, the Gamecocks didn't get a base hit until two outs in the fourth inning. Unfortunately, innings five and six were both three-and-outs, so Arizona remained in command. And when the Gamecocks offense finally came alive toward the end, the Wildcats had built a 4-1 lead.
South Carolina's pitching in Game 1 was more damaging to itself than Game 2, but neither were dominant enough to completely shutdown Arizona.
Lacking consistency from inning-to-inning, the Gamecocks were down 3-0 after just three innings in Game 1. Starter Forrest Koumas lasted only 2.1 innings and allowed four hits and three runs. Reliever Evan Beal didn't help much, though, as he gave up two more runs in five innings with seven hits.
As for Game 2, starter Michael Roth performed well in 6.2 innings but allowed three hits and one run through the first four innings. The Wildcats got the best of Roth early and only got more confident as the game progressed.
Will South Carolina make it back to the CWS in 2013?
Beginning of Innings
It's a significant help to any team when the first batter of each inning has a sound plate appearance. Any kind of hit or walk obviously suffices, but so does continuously fighting off pitches with fouls ball to wear the pitcher down.
Unfortunately, South Carolina wasn't consistent enough at starting each inning off on a good note. Ten times did the first batter get out in the series, and 13 times did the first two batters fail to reach the bases.
Therefore, most of the work needed to score had to occur with two quick outs and nobody on base. Even for the two-time defending champions, that is a tough situation to constantly fight out of. In turn, it's no surprise South Carolina only managed two runs in two games and failed to win thrice consecutive times.
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