Omaha, NE (WLTX) - South Carolina is one of the most seasoned teams ever in the history of the College World Series. They've got nine players who've been on two championship teams so far. They've got the winningest pitcher in College World Series history (Matt Price, with five). And of course, a two-time championship coach.
But will that make a difference against Arizona, their title series opponent?
"It may help a little bit," Ray Tanner said Saturday after practice. "I don't think it's a tremendous advantage because we're playing such a great club. Maybe the anxiety, the tension the nerves, maybe that won't be the case because we've been here a little bit, although we've got some freshman that haven't been on this stage. [We] just gotta go out and play some great baseball."
PHOTOS: Gamecocks in the College World Series
And that's what they've been doing ever since this postseason began. As was the case in their first two title runs, pitching and defense has led the way. The Gamecocks have given up just 16 runs in the postseason, and haven't allowed more than four runs so far. The last team to make a title run and never allow more than four runs in any game? That was the Miami Hurricanes in 1982.
But history lessons aren't what the Gamecocks are pondering. After knocking off SEC rival Arkansas Friday night, USC will take on the Arizona Wildcats in a best of three series starting Sunday night.
"We're back," said right fielder Adam Matthews. "We're back again to play in the championship series it's a great feeling. We're honored to play Arizona. Arizona's a great club. We're going to have a task at hand and we're ready for the challenge."
And variety may help the Gamecocks with their focus. No SEC opponent means a fresh opponent to tame.
"Last year when it was an SEC matchup we were kinda like jeez another SEC team and we had two other SEC team in our bracket this year," said pitcher Michael Roth. "It's always good to play another opponent just cause it's good to see somebody else on the other side of the ball."
Gametime Sunday is 8 p.m. WLTX will have coverage on Twitter and Facebook, as well as updates from News19's crew in Omaha on News19 at 6 & 11 p.m.