In a state known for government spending and football failure, there's one thing Palmetto State sports fans love to harp on.
What is it? Why, college baseball of course!
South Carolina, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Charleston and The Citadel all made it to the NCAA Baseball Tournament last season.
And guess who won the whole thing? The South Carolina Gamecocks, led by a rock-solid pitching crew and reliable hitters. As for the pitching staff, remember the control of Blake Cooper and Jay Brown? How about the speed of Sam Dyson?
Jackie Bradley, .368 hitter on the season and Most Outstanding Player in the College World Series, and Whit Merrifield, who claimed his fame with the winning hit, anchored the 2010 national champs' offense.
Meanwhile Clemson wasn't just another second seed. If you can remember anybody it's surely Kyle Parker and Wilson Boyd, the co-stars in the outfield. Wilson batted a solid .300 to go with 11 homers, while Parker is off to the pros in the Colorado Rockies' farm system.
The Tigers also made it all the way to Omaha.
College baseball was treated to a brand-new tradition in March 2010, and it'll be renewed this Saturday. Last season, South Carolina, Clemson and 7,105 fans crammed into Flour Field in Greenville for a tasty three-game matchup.
USC won the Saturday game by the tune of 7-5, but the Tigers sandwiched the Gamecocks on Friday and Sunday to win the regular-season series.
The Reedy River Rivalry boiled over during the lemonade-sipping summer, as Palmetto State fans were treated to a classic two-game series in Omaha, Nebraska at the CWS. The Gamecocks prevailed and advanced to the national championship.
In 2011, Ray Tanner's Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers are advancing to a new media-wise base in the rivalry.
Local FOX NEWS 57 will broadcast Saturday’s game at Flour Field, giving the two schools increased exposure.
Excited? I am.
If you're an educated college baseball fan, I'm sure you know that college baseball is not the most popular hit on television. Sport South, Fox Sports, CSS and CBS College Sports carry NCAA games along with media granddaddy ESPN, which covers occasional games and exclusively features the NCAA Tournament.
The local TV deal could cause a domino effect in college baseball.
If the TV guys decide to broadcast more games in South Carolina, they could create a "South Carolina College Baseball Game of The Week" branded by FOX or NBC affiliate WIS, which is located in Columbia.
Perhaps other schools will pick up on the idea of the local broadcast.
This TV trick will pick up storms of casual fans. There's no reason to miss your favorite school's game on local TV, especially if they field a talented team.
So, college baseball fans, give the Palmetto State a pat on the back, and give thanks for good weather, good baseball, great pride and an awesome idea.
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