The Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks will face off in the 2011 College World Series Championship Series (best of three) starting tomorrow in Omaha, Nebraska. Both teams swept through the opening round of the College World Series with identical 3-0 records. The Gators picked up a victory over Texas by a score of 8-4 before defeating Vanderbilt 3-1 and 6-4 to got to the Championship round. The Gamecocks on the other hand grabbed a 5-4 win over Texas A&M before winning over Virginia twice by scores of 7-1 and 3-2 in 13 innings.
Florida (53-17, 22-8 SEC, 8-1 NCAA Tourney)
Florida has been able to take care of business in Omaha giving up only an average of three runs in their first three CWS games. They will be fully rested for the Monday evening showdown against the Gamecocks as they have scheduled number 1 starter Hudson Randall to get the ball. He currently is 11-3 with a 2.24 ERA in eight starts. In his last outing against Texas, he went 6.2 innings giving up five hits, four runs (one earned) while striking out five batters. Number 2 starter Karsten Whitson is expected to start the second game of the series as he sports a perfect 8-0 record with a 2.43 ERA in 18 starts. He has struck out a team high 88 batters on the year but has been wild as he leads the team with 11 wild pitches. Whitson’s last outing saw him go only 4.2 innings against Vanderbilt giving up four hits and a run as he got the no-decision against the Commodores. If the Gators head to a third game in the Championship series, you could see Alex Panteliodis (6-2, 3.71 ERA) or Brian Johnson (8-3, 3.66 ERA) who hasn’t in a few weeks after getting drilled with a throw to second base from his catcher.
The Gators offense checks in with a team batting average of .309 as they are led by 2011 SEC Player of the Year Mike Zunino. He leads the team in all three triple crown categories with a .366 batting average, 18 homers, and 66 RBI. Daniel Pigott is second on the team at .341 batting average with five homers and 40 RBI. Preston Tucker, who has been extremely hot in Omaha, is a major threat at the plate with 15 homers on the year while also hitting 15 homers.
South Carolina (53-14 overall, 22-8 SEC, 8-0 NCAA Tourney)
The South Carolina Gamecocks have been outstanding in the postseason with a perfect 8-0 record after sweeping through eachround of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. They defeated Georgia Southern and Stetson (twice) in the Columbia Regional before sweeping UConn in the Super Regional to advance to the College World Series. In Omaha, they defeated Texas A&M 5-4 before beating the Virginia Cavaliers twice 7-1 and 3-2 in 13 innings.
Michael Roth has been the number 1 starter througout the season after making only two starts last season. He has been arguably the best pitcher in the country with a 13-3 record and a 0.98 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts). He has made two starts already in Omaha as he pitched against Texas A&M in the opener as he went 7.1 innings giving up four unearned runs while only giving up four hits but struggled with his control as he walked five. His next start came on Friday night against Virginia where he went seven innings giving up only four hits and one run while walking two batters and striking out three. The Gamecocks will likely start Forrest Koumas in Game 1 of the Championship Series who hasn’t appeared in a game since June 5th against Stetson. He last only four innings giving up one run on three hits as he got the no-decision. I would expect number two starter Colby Holmes get the ball in game two of the Championship Series as he is 7-3 with a 3.69 ERA. The biggest issue with the Gamecocks will be the status of Matt Price who threw 95 pitches in relief on Friday while picking up the win against Virginia. He will likely be available on a limited basis on Monday before returning to his normal role on Tuesday.
The South Carolina lineup enters hitting at a .295 clip with Christian Walker being the most impressive bat. Walker is hitting .355 with a team high 10 homers while driving in 62 runs on the year. Scott Wingo is second on the team with a .341 average with four homers and 28 RBI. Jackie Bradley Jr. is a potent bat who made his return in the College World Series after missing several weeks with a wrist injury. He is hitting .261 with six homers and 27 RBI in 40 games on the year. B
The Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks matched up in an SEC tournament series in Gainesville back on March 25th-27th in which the Gamecocks took two out of three games. Game 1 featured a great pitching performance from Michael Roth who went 8.1 innings giving up two runs while every starter in the South Carolina lineup get a hit as the Gamecocks won 9-2. In game 2 of the series, Florida’s Hudson Randall pitched a complete game five hitter allowing only one run as the Gators grabbed the 2-1 win. The Gamecocks pitching staff was also solid on the day giving up only three hits between Forrest Koumas and Matt Price. The third game of the series saw the Gamecocks edge Florida 4-3 as Ethan Morales got an RBI walk int eh eighth inning to bring home the winning run.
Brian Foley: South Carolina 2-1
Mark Rafferty: South Carolina 2-1