Plenty to Be Proud of for 2012 Gamecocks

June 26, 2012

Two-time Champs loses College World Series to Arizona

Meat Loaf said it best, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”  For the South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team, that’s exactly how this incredible run should be remembered.

After stunning runs to back-to-back National Championships in 2010 and 2011, the 2012 version of the Gamecocks lost in the championship series of the College World Series to the Arizona Wildcats Monday night in Omaha.

For a team that lost most of its key players from the championship runs, Jackie Bradley Jr., Scott Wingo, Adrian Morales, and Brady Thomas, and relying so heavily on true freshmen, there is nothing disappointing about this year’s team.

The team started out strong in February, but after the first two SEC series, was merely 1-5 in conference play.  It was a clear sign that the run of championships might indeed end in 2012.

But the team rebounded, led by established stars Michael Roth, Matt Price, and Christian Walker, freshmen like Jordan Montgomery, Tanner English, Grayson Greiner, and Joey Pankake, and junior college transfers L.B. Dantzler and Chase Vergason, to make a return trip to Omaha.  For a team that routinely started five players who were not a part of either championship team.

Making it back to the College World Series with this team was stunning enough.  An opportunity to win a third consecutive championship through such adversity, is amazing.

In traditional South Carolina baseball fashion, they made things interesting all year, and it was the same thing in 2012.  This year, it was #FearTheFish.  The mantra came from Dantzler’s pet beta fish, named Reptar.  It all started because no one could take care of the fish while the team was on the road, and it became a rallying cry on the field, and on Twitter.

It continued all the way to the championship series, a spectacular run, that ended by a team that out-Gamecocked, the Gamecocks.  Arizona ran the table in Omaha, like the Gamecocks in 2011, to win the 2012 College World Series.  Just like it should be, to be the champs, the Wildcats had to beat the champs.

But there is nothing to look down upon for the Gamecocks and the baseball team’s future.  For freshman to make this sort of run puts a lot of pressure on them in the future.  This was some ‘re-load’ year, as Ray Tanner calls it.

Nevertheless, the little team that had the pressure of the past two seasons, rose up, returning to Omaha, and game a fighter’s chance at a third consecutive championship.  It’s the closest thing to a dynasty there has been in college baseball for a long time.

And the thing to remember, they’re only freshman.  The experience will help in the future.  To finish the same way this column started, Timbuk3 once said, “The future’s so bright, I got to wear shades.”