ColumbiaSCRegional

CBD Column: 2012 Columbia (SC) Super Regional Preview

  • Game 1: Saturday, June 9, at 8pm on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Sunday, June 10, at 7pm on ESPNU
  • Game 3: Monday, June 11, at 7pm on ESPN2 (if necessary)

Teams: #2 Oklahoma Sooners (42-23) vs. #1 South Carolina Gamecocks (43-17)

*South Carolina is the #8 National Seed for the 2012 CWS and are two-time defending champions (2010 & 2011)

Park: Carolina Stadium

Location & Travel Note:

The Oklahoma Sooners will only be traveling a little over 1,000 miles to take on the two time defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Travel should not be a factor, but the home crowds may be a problem for the Sooners.

Weather Outlook for Columbia, SC:

Weather looks to be great for college baseball. It looks to be sunny and in the high 80 degree range for the weekend. If you are in the Columbia, South Carolina area you should definitely take advantage of the great weather and venue to watch two tremendous teams compete!

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Game 1

Oklahoma: LHP #19 Jordan John 2.23 ERA (8-5)

South Carolina: LHP #29 Michael Roth 2.68 ERA (6-1)

Game 2

South Carolina: LHP #34 Jordan Montgomery 4.05 ERA (5-1)

Oklahoma: RHP #22 Jonathan Gray 3.67 ERA (6-4)

Game 3 (if necessary)

Oklahoma: LHP #13 Dillon Overton 3.35 ERA (5-3)

South Carolina: RHP #44 Colby Holmes 3.00 ERA (7-1)

*Based off of tendency for the season and last few weeks.

Pitching Note:

For South Carolina, pitching has been a strength all year and is a reason why they are two time defending national champions. Senior LHP #29 Michael Roth has been a solid starter all year for the Gamecocks. Freshman LHP #34 Jordan Montgomery has had strong outings helped out in many games by relief led by Junior LHP #38 Tyler Webb 2.01 ERA (5-1) to finish off the game. Webb is also a very experienced pitcher with 33 appearances this season being the man to get the job done consistently for South Carolina. Pitching proved to be a factor in having a deep bullpen to defeat a tough opponent in the Clemson Tigers twice in order to advance to the Super Regionals.

For Oklahoma, pitching has also been a reliable consistency to perform. The three projected starters are all sophomores. They are experienced, but I still give South Carolina the edge with their pitching experience. The question for Oklahoma will be whether or not they will continue to play hot and their pitching grow quickly into the moment of what they are facing in the Super Regionals. Sophomore RHP #32 Damien Magnifico 4.01 ERA (2-1) and Junior LHP Steven Okert 3.26 ERA (6-6) have been a big asset for the Sooners coming in for relief in crucial times or fulfilling whatever else may be asked of by the team. Look for Oklahoma to stand toe-to-toe with South Carolina’s pitching and put pressure on the Gamecocks in their attempt to return to Omaha.

Draft Highlight:

South Carolina is a young team and after having won two national championships much of the talent has moved on to the MLB. The highest pick for the Gamecocks this year came in the 4th round to the Baltimore Orioles with Junior 1B/3B #13 Christian Walker. Oklahoma is also a very young team this season. Their highest pick came in the 4th round to the San Francisco Giants with Junior LHP Steven Okert 3.26 ERA (6-6).

Probable Batting Lineup:

Oklahoma

CF Max White .343

SS Caleb Bushyhead .235

1B Evan Mistich .269

DH Matt Oberste .307

RF Cody Reine .279

2B Jack Mayfield .297

3B Garrett Carey .210

LF Erik Ross .291

C Tanner Toal .263

South Carolina

SS Joey Pankake .286

CF Evan Marzilli .288

1B Christian Walker .319

3B LB Dantzler .260

RF Adam Matthews .241

DH Connor Bright .236

LF Tanner English .307

2B Chase Vergason .250

C Dante Rosenberg .237

Both Oklahoma and South Carolina look to be evenly matched overall with both their batting and pitching compared. Oklahoma may have a better average in their lineup, but South Carolina is fully capable of getting on base and scoring when necessary.

Oklahoma advanced to the Big 12 Championship game before losing to Missouri 8-7 while South Carolina went 1-2 in the SEC Tournament.

In Regional play, both teams have momentum coming into this weekend. Oklahoma defied the odds and after losing their first game to Appalachian St. they were able to defeat Army and top seed Virginia on the same day to advance to the championship game. There they face Appalachian St. again a won twice against them in one day to win the Charlottesville, VA Regional.

South Carolina hosted their Regional at home where they faced Manhattan on the first day before defeating Clemson two times in a row (on separate days unlike what the Sooners had to go through).

Oklahoma showed great endurance and tenacity to be able to come back and win four games in two days after dropping their first game to advance. I am sure the Sooners were quite tired after that, but they should be fully rested and ready to take on the Gamecocks come Saturday. South Carolina did what they needed to do in order to advance. Both teams have reasons to have their heads held high coming into the Super Regionals and it will result in two tremendous teams facing off in what should be an exciting series to watch!

CWS Program History:

The Oklahoma Sooners have been to the College World Series 10 times and have won the National Championship twice in 1951 and in 1994. More recently, the South Carolina Gamecocks have also been to the College World Series 10 times and have won the past two National Championships (2010 & 2011). Both the Sooners and Gamecocks have a history of being successful ball clubs. Both are looking to make their mark in Omaha again this year. South Carolina currently has an 19 NCAA tournament game winning streak going into this Super Regional this weekend, which is a NCAA record.

Brief Season Overview:

OKLAHOMA: Overall (42-23)

Big-12 (13-10) Home (23-8) Away (10-10) Neutral (9-5)

The Sooners started off their season with a tournament opponent in Pepperdine losing the series on the road. They won quality games against Oregon, Missouri, and swept Baylor on the road who would go on to become the #4 National Seed in the tournament (Oregon would also become the #5 National Seed). They were swept by Texas at home and Texas failed to make the tournament this year for the first time since 1998. Even in their losses, the Sooners were never out of the game and always made it close. Look for them to bring the same pride and endurance to Columbia where they know they will be facing a tough opponent, but will fight just as they proved in Virginia last weekend.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Overall (43-17)

SEC (18-11) Home (30-7) Away (11-8) Neutral (2-2)

The Gamecocks beat their rival the Clemson Tigers four times out of five meetings, which should not be overlooked. They were not as strong through SEC play as they have been in the past, but they took care of business against the weaker opponents and took down some of the tougher competition in Florida, Mississippi St., and LSU (Florida is the #1 National Seed and LSU the #7 seed). South Carolina did not win the SEC this year, but they are a young team that has matured through the season and know how to win. With a two-time defending National Championship Head Coach at the helm, you can bet that the South Carolina Gamecocks will always keep the game close. The greatest benefit for them will be that they are playing at home in Columbia where they have dominated all season long. Oklahoma has struggled on the road and South Carolina knows this. Expect the Gamecock crowd to be a true home field advantage in this series.

Prediction:

With each team having an overall young pitching staff, I expect to see some runs scored in this series. Watch out for Oklahoma to come out strong to try and win game 1, but I expect South Carolina to take home the first win on Saturday. However, Oklahoma knows that after last week that they are fully capable of coming back from a 0-1 start. I expect South Carolina to win by a close margin on Sunday and win the series 2-0 and extend their NCAA tournament record streak to 20. After not hosting a Super Regional since 2004, South Carolina swept UCONN last year in Columbia and will attempt to do the same to the Sooners this year. Oklahoma may have enough with their bats and pitching to ensure that they continue their season and that is something South Carolina will need to be aware of. However, the Gamecocks know how to win, they are at home, and the Sooners struggle on the road. You may be asking yourself why I am saying this after Oklahoma four straight games in the Virginia Regional last weekend. A valid point, however, I just feel as though South Carolina knows how to win, and with the current streak, anything short of Omaha would be a disappointment.

South Carolina 2-0

What to Watch For:

  • Young pitchers from both Oklahoma and South Carolina trying to give their team the best advantage to advance
  • South Carolina to extend their NCAA tournament record winning streak
  • One of the few possible sweeps in the Super Regionals as the Gamecocks will try and punch their ticket to Omaha and win a third National Championship in a row

Personal Note:

Oklahoma and South Carolina should be very fun to watch with a lot of crimson color to be noticed in the crowds. Expect the games to be close and highly competitive. I would love to see Oklahoma advance to the College World Series to prevent South Carolina from having a shot at winning a third straight title and it would be a great story. Oklahoma has a young team and if they can build momentum going into next season they will be extremely formidable in the Big 12. South Carolina is also a young team and are the “team to beat” for the third year in a row now. Will this be the end of the NCAA winning streak, or will the Gamecocks say hello to Omaha once again.

  • Duke

    Great preview!  Just a little note, Carolina’s post-season winning streak is currently at 19, not 18.  Go Cocks!

  • Aftertwobowls

    Colby Holmes will pitch Game 2 for USC.

  • Chette09

    Well to whomever wrote this column: I don’t like your personal note. Keep the opinions to yourself and analyze the stats. Oklahoma is going down and Cocks are going to Omaha. Just face it. Let’s go COCKS we can reach the three peat.