June 26, 2011
Florida, USC ready for CWS
By Phil Stanton
(photo by Jimmy Jones)
Neb. – The second-seeded Florida Gators and the
fourth-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks will meet in the
championship series of the 2011 College World Series.
This will the second straight championship series
for South Carolina and the fifth time the Gamecocks have played
for the title. USC took two games from UCLA a year ago to win
its first baseball national championship. The Gamecocks lost
three times in the title contest (Texas in 1975, Arizona State
in 1977 and Texas in 2002).
“To be in this situation today is just a
tremendous accomplishment for both of our universities,” USC
head coach Ray Tanner said. “It’s on a great stage, and there’s
no better place to be this time of year than in Omaha.”
The Gators are looking for their first national
title. This is the second time Florida has reached the CWS
championship series. The Gators lost twice to Texas is 2005.
“There’s going to be a team at Florida that wins
it for the first time,” UF head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said,
“and hopefully this is the one. But we’ve got a tremendous
challenge ahead of us. But it would be awfully special to be the
first team at Florida to win the national championship in
Florida and South Carolina played a three-game
SEC series in Gainesville in late March. The Gamecocks won 9-2
on Friday, lost 2-1 on Saturday before taking the series with a
4-3 victory on Sunday.
South Carolina and Florida have never met in the
College World Series or in the NCAA Tournament.
team from the SEC will win the national championship for the
third straight season. LSU took the title in 2009, followed by
South Carolina a season ago.
“We feel like the SEC is certainly the best
conference in the country,” O’Sullivan said. “There’s certainly
other teams that could be here right now within our conference,
and I think playing the SEC schedule has certainly prepared us
for this opportunity.”
“It’s a battle every weekend,” USC pitcher
Michael Roth said. “You never get a weekend off. It’s always a
South Carolina has won a record 14 straight NCAA
tournament games. The Gamecocks have won nine straight College
World Series contests.
Florida and South Carolina are the only two teams
to play in the final CWS at Rosenblatt Stadium and the first at
TD Ameritrade Park.
This will be the first time that teams from the
same conference play in the CWS championship series and the
fourth time that teams from the same conference will meet in the
1988: Pac-10: Stanford 9, Arizona State 4
1997: SEC: LSU 13, Alabama 6
1998: Pac-10: USC 21, Arizona State 14
Both head coaches graduated from ACC schools.
O’Sullivan is a 1991 graduate of Virginia. South Carolina head
coach Ray Tanner is a 1980 graduate of NC State.
Both schools had 11 players selected in the 2011
MLB Draft, one away from the SEC-record 12 from Vanderbilt this
Florida has faced three first-round draft picks
as starting pitchers in this year’s CWS. The Gators opened with
an 8-4 victory over Taylor Jungmann and Texas. Florida edged
Grayson Garvin and Vanderbilt 3-1 in its second game. UF beat
Sonny Gray and Vandy 6-4 this past Friday to eliminate the
“We feel very fortunate to be where we are right
now,” O’Sullivan said. “We feel like we’re playing our best
baseball right now.”