At one point this season, Carolina’s postseason was seriously in doubt. Could the Gamecocks make it to, or make it through a regional? Certainly. It only took a 5-4 extra-inning win and a 4-3 decision over Clemson. The Super Regional was a breeze in comparison, with 5-0 and 5-1 wins against Oklahoma.
But the College World Series was like a trip back to the SEC Tournament, necessitating a dispatching of Florida and two elimination games against Arkansas. One of those wins coming the same day after beating Kent State in another elimination game.
Perhaps it wasn’t much of a surprise that, after playing three elimination games in two days, Carolina dropped both games in the CWS championship series to Arizona. It was the fourth time USC has been the runner-up in the CWS, but its third consecutive showing in the final after back-to-back national titles. Only Texas, 1983-1985, played for the championship three straight times, and the Longhorns ended up one title short of the Gamecocks.
“We battled as hard as we could,” Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said, “but they did a little bit better than we did. They played great defense, had timely hitting and clutch pitching as well. Although we’re disappointed tonight, I’m not disappointed with my players. We battled hard. We’ve worked extremely hard, and we made a run. But this is a national championship for the University of Arizona, and we congratulate them.”
This season had its share of memorable moments, and perhaps took a turn in the Gamecocks’ favor when a fish went with the team to Auburn.
Before the regular season series at Arkansas, Gamecock Central‘s David Cloninger wrote, “The Gamecocks’ newest mascot – [L.B.] Dantzler’s pet betta fish named Reptar – has become the darling of the baseball program over the past three weeks, ever since it was revealed that Dantzler, fearful of leaving the fish at home alone, took him on the team’s trip to Auburn. USC swept the series, inspiring a craze; Reptar was in the dugout and around the offices for the team’s home series against Alabama, and USC also swept.”
And with the 2012 Gamecock effort at an end, the fans turned out to Carolina Stadium to welcome the team back to Columbia. Speaking to the crowd, pitcher Michael Roth said, “Once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock. I can’t say thank you enough for all the support you have show to me personally but also the team all year.”
Of course, pitcher Matt Price said he made sure to talk to the younger players after the CWS about getting better so that Carolina can make another run next season. Something tells me they will. This Clemson Grad just hopes the Tigers end up in different regional!
by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., who served as the only true independent member of the South Carolina General Assembly from 1990-1998. Currently, he is a general practice attorney in Columbia, S.C., concentrating in probate and estate planning, criminal defense and personal injury law.