Douglas Kroll, NCAA.com
Last Updated - June 29, 2011 1:43 GMT
OMAHA, Neb. – We may be at a new home, 3 miles down 13th Street, but so much is still the same.
South Carolina is still the national champion.
When Ray Tanner arrived at South Carolina in 1997, it took until 2002 to reach Omaha and the College World Series.
Three trips later, Tanner and the Gamecocks closed Rosenblatt Stadium in 2010 with the program’s first national title. Now, they get to add another to the trophy case.
Michael Roth and 2011 CWS Most Outstanding Player Scott Wingo led the way once again as the Gamecocks swept Florida in the CWS Championship Series 5-2 in Game 2.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Roth and Wingo helped South Carolina become the first team to go 10-0 in the postseason.
Roth added to his Omaha legacy with another 7.2 innings of work, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out six to finish 2011 with a 14-3 record and a 1.06 ERA. The junior’s career 1.17 ERA at the College World Series is second among pitchers to throw more than 30 innings in the event.
South Carolina’s ace also etched himself in the history books by becoming the second pitcher to start two decisive games of the CWS finals and the first since Mike Stutes of Oregon State in 2006 and 2007.
While Roth shut down the Gators, Wingo kept producing at the plate and in the field. The senior drove in the first run of the game and finished 6 for 18 with four RBIs in five CWS games.
“[Wingo’s] been a key ingredient to the success we've had between the lines,” Tanner said. “He loves to play. He has a good time doing it. He works so hard at practice. You know, I look out sometimes at practice and think maybe he's doing a little bit too much. But part of it is he's having fun, and sometimes he takes more ground balls than he should. But he's having fun doing it, and that's the kind of guys you want, that they're going to play hard. They're going to love what they're doing.”
In the process of winning a second national championship in a row, the Gamecocks broke two records with their 16th consecutive postseason win – a record that stood since Texas won 15 in a row from 1983 to 1984. It was also their 10th CWS win in a row. South Carolina becomes just the sixth program to win back-to-back national titles – a feat that Tanner never had on his radar a couple of seasons ago.
“I don't talk in those terms. I talk about what we have to do today,” Tanner said. “And that's enough. I don't believe in putting undue pressure on players. The game's hard enough as it is, and you respect it and do it the right way, and you hope at the end of the day it was a good one.”
But it was the ability of his team to grind and pitch and play defense that did teams like Florida in all season long. The Gamecocks allowed only 10 runs in five games this season against the Gators – not bad considering Florida led the nation in hits entering the championship series.
“I'd say we're pretty awesome, yeah,” Wingo said. “But I think our talent might not be a bunch of first rounders, but I think I'd play with these guys more than any other team. We don't give you one yard. We just go out there and try to [win]. John Taylor, all those guys like that, Roth, I mean, they just make pitches. And we got guys that play good defense, and we're tough to beat.”
As we look ahead to 2012, the last program to win three national titles in a row? Southern California won five consecutive from 1970 to 1974. The way the Gamecocks play, and until they are beat again in the postseason, they’ve earned the right to think about that possibility.
Noting the CWS
• It is the ninth CWS championship for the Southeastern Conference, a total that ranks second to the Pac-10’s 15 titles. The SEC has won the last three titles.
• South Carolina becomes the third team to sweep through the CWS and CWS championship series since the best-of-3 finals began in 2003, joining Texas (2005) and Oregon State (2007).
• Tuesday marked Florida’s 72nd game of the season, matching the 1991 squad for the most games in school history. Preston Tucker is the only Gator to start all 72 games, while Mike Zunino also made his 72nd appearance of the season. Both players now share the single-season school record for games played in a season.
• The attendance of 26,721 fans was a TD Ameritrade Park record, bettering the 25,882 fans on hand for Game 12 of the CWS (South Carolina vs. Virginia). The per game average of 22,977 this year is the highest since 2005, when the CWS record average of 23,952 was set. It is the most for a CWS championship game, bettering the mark of 25,012 in 2007.
• The 2011 All-CWS Team:
Catcher: Robert Beary, South Carolina
First Base: Christian Walker, South Carolina
Second Base: Scott Wingo, South Carolina
Third Base: Cody Dent, Florida
Shortstop: Peter Mooney, South Carolina
Outfield: Tony Kemp, Vanderbilt
Outfield: Connor Harrell, Vanderbilt
Outfield: Bryson Smith, Florida
Designated Hitter: Brady Thomas, South Carolina
Pitcher: Michael Roth, South Carolina
Pitcher: Matt Price, South Carolina