By now, you’ve probably read our post on the six reasons we believe USC gets the victory tonight. But let’s talk about the biggest things South Carolina can do to ensure a victory in tonight’s game.
Set the tone early
The Gamecocks have fallen into a bad habit lately of failing to take advantage of early scoring opportunities. In most cases this season, the team’s pitching and defense have been able to hold teams at bay long enough for the bats to wake up the second, or even third, time through the order. The Gamecocks can’t afford for that to happen tonight. Even with Roth on the mound, these Gators are dangerous. It’s usually not a question of whether they’ll score on a team’s ace, but how much they’ll score.
Don’t let up
Florida is one of the most feared offensive teams in the nation, and for good reason. The Gators lead all of Division I in home runs with 75. That’s 9 more than the second closest team. And 34 more than the Gamecocks. Catcher Mike Zunino was the top college player selected at this month’s Major League Baseball draft, taken with the third overall selection by the Seattle Mariners. The team had nine players taken in the draft. Let’s be real, they’re basically fielding a Double-A team out there. There’s no weak spots in the lineup. Carolina needs to continually apply pressure rather than feel it.
Use experience to our advantage
In case you somehow haven’t heard it by now, Carolina baseball is good. Really good. So good, in fact, that they haven’t lost in their last 21 NCAA Tournament games, which is a new all-time record. To give you an idea of how unprecedented that feat is, consider that the old record was 15, and stood for 18 years before we broke it last season. We last lost in the postseason two years ago this Wednesday. Florida has experience too, but the wrong kind. Like South Carolina, the Gators have been to Omaha each of the last three seasons. In 2010, they were eliminated in just two games. And we all know what happened last year. The Gators returned almost all the key players from both of those teams this year, but have at no time appeared to be the dominant team everyone expected. Essentially, this Florida squad is a collection of individuals rather than a team. South Carolina’s cohesiveness, its inexplicable ability to win in the postseason, and its belief that it can win every game it plays will play into its favor here.
Random meaningless facts
- Carolina is a perfect 5-0 in June
- Carolina is 26-8 (.765 winning percentage) in night games
- Against top-25 teams, the Gamecocks are just 8-10 (.444)
- In the “Yankee gray” uniforms that will be worn tonight, USC is 5-4 (.556)
- In Saturday games USC is 11-6 (.647)
- I wanted to do some Florida facts too, but their media supplement actually doesn’t have any statistics or results from this season in it. Meaning our Sports Information Department is far superior to theirs. Fact.