OMAHA — South Carolina is not known for its fast starts in the College World Series.
That’s why the most notable event in the Gamecocks’ 4-3 loss to Oklahoma on Sunday—other than 6 hours, 16 minutes of weather delays — was Christian Walker’s leadoff homer in the second inning. That broke a 46-inning South Carolina scoreless streak in openers dating back to 1982.
Three of the South Carolina shutouts were during the Ray Tanner era, coming for 2002-04. Tanner has a simple explanation.
“I’m always a bad coach in the first game,” he said. "It’s hard to explain. But, you know, the thing about this team in particular, and some of the teams I’ve had, they’re very resilient. They bounce back.”
It remains to be seen if South Carolina bounces back like the 2002 Gamecocks, who advanced to the national championship game before losing to Texas; the 2003 Gamecocks, who managed one win before heading home; or the 2004 Gamecocks, who fell somewhere in between.
Tanner is confident the even-keel approach taken by the 2010 edition will serve it well in Thursday night’s rematch with Oklahoma.
“They don’t get too excited when things are going well, and they don’t get too upset if they have a couple of bad days,” said Tanner. “You get a new day, you bounce back, and you try to win the next one.”
The Gamecocks (49-16) are expected to start either senior righthander Blake Cooper (12-2, 2.92 ERA, 110 SO) or freshman lefthander Tyler Webb (2-2, 4.11, 35 SO), who split time between the rotation and the bullpen this season. The Gamecocks sent out a text message late Wednesday night saying Cooper is the probable starter.
Cooper would be pitching on short rest after starting Sunday’s opener. He had allowed six hits and three runs over five innings when the game was delayed, but he threw just 67 pitches
Oklahoma (50-17) is expected to start righthander Zach Neal (8-3, 4.65 ERA, 88 SO), who was the Sooners’ Friday night starter this season.
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