Well the road to redemption just got a whole lot tougher for our Gamecocks. The NCAA has announced that the South Carolina-Kent State elimination game has been postponed until 12 PM Eastern (11 AM Central) tomorrow and will be televised on ESPN2. If Carolina is able to defeat the Golden Flashes, it will have to play again at 9 PM Eastern (8 PM Central) against Arkansas on the same channel. If South Carolina loses that game, it will be out of the College World Series. If it wins, it will play one final game against Arkansas on Friday for the chance to advance to the championship series. Got all that? Here’s a couple of quick thoughts on the rain delay before we sign off for the evening and resume our coverage from Omaha bright and early tomorrow.
The NCAA sucks at communicating
Throughout the entire rain delay, we in the press box heard nothing from the NCAA, the TD Ameritrade Park grounds crew, or ESPN except via Twitter. The press box is wired with the capability to make announcements only to media members, but none were made. In fact, we weren’t even informed that the game was in a delay. You may laugh, but at 6:35 with a light drizzle and the tarp still on the field, it would be nice to know whether they think the first pitch can be thrown at the scheduled 7:08 start time. There was about an hour period when field conditions were playable and rain was either at a sprinkle or nonexistent, but the NCAA failed to tell us what was going on. We didn’t even find out about the mandatory 54-minute delay after the tarp is pulled from the field until over half an hour into the nearly rainless period. They never told us that they were waiting on another storm cell to pass over, which was especially vexing since the radar being shown on the stadium scoreboard didn’t show another cell within 45 miles of Omaha for much of the rainless period. The grounds crew seemed in no hurry to make the field playable and bristled when called out by fans on Twitter for doing so. Simply put, it was an extremely poorly managed few hours from the standpoint of the NCAA.
Ray ain’t worried
Like all of us, Coach Tanner was hoping that the game could be played this evening. But he says he thinks that even though the arrangement is less than desirable for the Gamecocks, it’s better than trying to play the game tonight. “Earlier I was hoping we could play,” he said. “But then there was another cell out there, and we may have been able to get it started, but may have had one or two delays. Tomorrow looks like it’s going to be clear. Whoever wins our game is going to have to turn around and play tomorrow night. But that’s baseball. That’s part of it.”
“I don’t think [it's a disadvantage,]” he continued, referring to the potential of playing a second game tomorrow against an Arkansas team that hasn’t played since Monday night. “I was in the room there where the radar was with all the NCAA people, and I think [Kent State's] Coach Stricklin and I were very comfortable that this was the best decision we could make. And whoever wins our game will have a little momentum going into the night game.”
So there you have it. The half-empty approach: “Those dastardly NCAA folks are making us play twice tomorrow, IF we can even win the first game!” The half-full approach: “We’ve got an opportunity to get some momentum that Arkansas definitely won’t have going into the night game.” Ray’s definitely a half-full guy, and I think he’s converted me to his way of thinking.
Roth may be in play tomorrow, but Webb probably won’t
When asked if the extra day of rest would make Michael Roth available to throw against Kent State, Tanner remained noncommittal, stating that he and his staff would need to look at potential matchups and such before a final decision was made. Montgomery will have to pitch at some point in this tournament if the Gamecocks have a chance to win, and Tanner says that they just have to figure out when is the most advantageous time to use him. He says that Tyler Webb, who pitched brilliantly in Monday night’s loss, most likely won’t be available. ”Probably not,” he said. “It gives him another day, but I think he threw 82 pitches, so probably not.”
My opinion: Jordan Montgomery will still make his scheduled start against Kent State, and Michael Roth will be available to start the nightcap against Arkansas if the Gamecocks are able to get the victory in the first game. Roth will be decently rested, having last pitched on Saturday, and the Gamecocks will need to win to survive. Colby Holmes will definitely be unavailable, and Forrest Koumas is still a question mark. Roth seems like the logical choice for the potential second game. Where Tanner would turn on Friday should the Gamecocks win twice tomorrow is still a mystery.