Though it's some 1200 miles from their campus, the South Carolina Gamecocks have become quite familiar with Omaha, Neb. And after a 7-3 win over rival Florida in their College World Series opener on Saturday night, Omaha must feel like a second home.
Not only were the environs were familiar for USC, so too was the their first opponent--the Florida Gators. Florida was who they beat last year to win the National Championship and the Gators exacted a small bit of revenge this year, ousting the Gamecocks from this year's SEC Tournament.
This time around South Carolina fell behind early 2-0, threatening in the early innings, but coming up empty against Florida starter Brian Johnson. They finally broke through with a five-run fifth, with the key blow a bases-loaded triple by Erik Payne. Florida answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth to cut it to 5-3.
The Gamecocks got some insurance in the top of the ninth thanks to a pair of fielding miscues from Florida that led to two runs.
Gamcocks' starter Michael Roth did not have his best stuff, but he battled for six and-a-third innings to get the win. Matt Price pitched an eventful eighth and ninth for USC to earn the save. Price received help from Evan Marzilli in the eighth, when the centerfielder made a sterling catch. In the ninth, Price loaded the bases before getting the final out on a line drive to right field to end the game.
USC will now face another familiar foe, Arkansas, on Monday at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2. The Razorbacks beat cinderella Kent State, 8-1 on Saturday.