I really love it when the sports gods are on our side. You know, those times when things just line up perfectly? When you get matchups you really want to see?
Clemson, USC and the sports gods have set us up for what could be an incredible showdown in Omaha over the next week and a half.
First, I will admit, the first thing I did when the NCAA Regionals were announced last week is check for potential matchups involving our state teams. Naturally I was giddy to see a scenario where USC could end up in Myrtle Beach for a rare matchup with Coastal Carolina. Worst case, the Gamecocks would have been home to face the College of Charleston or Ray Tanner’s old school, N.C. State in the Supers.
Speaking of that Myrtle Beach Regional, I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how incredibly exciting it was going to be, but we did know it was going to be entertaining to watch Coastal Carolina protect its home field and try to prove it was a legitimate number four national seed.
Yeah, that one pretty much exceeded expectations.
In the Columbia Regional we saw The Citadel knock off Virginia Tech in the opener and were treated to an entertaining Saturday night game between the Bulldogs and ace starter Asher Wojciechowski and USC ace Blake Cooper.
As far as Clemson goes, I honestly didn’t think the Tigers would advance. Did you? Honestly? I watched the Tigers play at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro and I saw a team that could hit, yes, but they were REALLY struggling to pitch and play defense. That is normally a big issue in late May and early June.
So I didn’t expect the Tigers to advance and yet, somehow, some way, they did. It was another brilliant postseason story. When the Tigers were snagged a home Super Regional it made it even better.
Once the Tigers secured home field by virtue Georgia Tech annual postseason collapse, I changed by tune with the Tigers and penciled them into my Omaha bracket.
That is when it hit me. Wow! USC and Clemson are on the SAME side of this bracket. Shades of 2002 came back. That year the whole state was watching as Clemson and USC battled it out on college baseball’s biggest stage. Could we get a repeat?
USC plays Oklahoma at 2:00 Sunday. Clemson plays Arizona State at 7:00 that same night. If they both win they will play each other Tuesday night. If they both lose they will meet Tuesday afternoon. Even if one wins and one loses they could end up meeting at some point in the bracket.
I can’t speak for Tiger or Gamecock fans, but I am ecstatic about this potential matchup. We could have two of the country’s top programs playing not for state bragging rights, but for the chance to compete for a national title?
Here is hoping that over the next week and a half we get to write another chapter or two to one of the best rivalries in college sports.
All we need is a little more help from the sports gods.