Monday, April 2, 2012

Baseball team slowly finding its identity

You could feel the almost giddy naysayers crawling up out of the ooze on Sunday afternoon, ready to pounce on Ray Tanner.  The suddenly "human" Gamecocks had given away a 4-0 lead at Vanderbilt and couldn’t get Matt Price a run no matter how long he was on the mound.  It appeared that Carolina was headed toward another weekend loss and a 2-7 start in the SEC.  USC had lost most of the close games this year that had broken our way in other campaigns.  Even “optimistic” Garnet and Black backers were privately whispering that Sunday had the feel of a “must-win” contest and it was not looking good .
Then Christian Walker stepped up as he has done many times before.  After he blasted the winning home run clear out of Nashville to give the Gamecocks the weekend series win, all of the “negative nancys” were put on notice that the YardCocks aren’t ready to give up on 2012 anytime soon. 
Coach Tanner was almost prophetic when he talked preseason about how five 1-run games is the difference between 40-20 and 35-25.  Some may have yawned through that sentiment but look at where we are. He was dead-on right.  Carolina is curently 20-8 and 3-6 in the conference.  More importantly, we are 0-3 in 1-run SEC games so far, while we went 6-3 in conference 1-run games in 2011. 
The good news is that the “light” part of our schedule now sits in front of us.  We have three home weekends sandwiched around a trip to Auburn, the only one of the upcoming opponents ranked this week.  Even if we go just 8-4 in those games and 4-1 in the midweek games, that would position Carolina 32-13 and over .500 in the conference.  Plus our younger players will have gotten plenty of “seasoning.”  As The Cockabooster has been saying all along, for this team it is much more important to find chemistry and our "sea legs" than in some years. 
Granted, that probably wouldn't give us much hope at a national seed, but I do think we still will land a regional at “The Ray.”  And anyone who thinks that Tallahassee, Chapel Hill, Coral Gables or Raleigh wants to see the Gamecocks coming to town for a Super Regional is crazy, history or no history. 
Do we wish we had picked off a game in Lexington and maybe that finale against the lizards?  Sure we do.  But we’ve gotten those close bounces ourselves many times in the past and that’s baseball.  We’ll be there when it counts.  Trust In Tanner! 

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