Published Friday, June 22, 2012 AT 11:58 PM / Updated at 12:59 AM
South Carolina finds way to stay alive, again
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

The reign of South Carolina’s college baseball dynasty will last at least a few more days, extended once again by a familiar formula.

The Gamecocks weren’t flashy offensively against Arkansas Friday night, but they managed to manufacture just enough runs to capitalize on remarkable efforts by their gritty pitching. They battled back from an early deficit and closed the door late, advancing with a 3-2 win over the Razorbacks.

Doing just enough to win. Again and again. That’s the SC way.

Coach Ray Tanner isn’t quite sure how to explain it. He’s had plenty of talent on his championship teams, yes. A little luck, too. But mostly, his players simply know how to battle, maintaining a sense of resiliency throughout.

Said Tanner: “You try not to let the game get the best of you, because it does. Baseball’s a game that’ll set you back. It’ll humble you. It’ll devastate you. It’ll crush you — if you allow it to. … You just have to let those things go and try to stay in the moment.”

And that’s what happened Friday. After trailing 2-0, South Carolina tied it with two runs in the fifth, then took the lead in the seventh. Closer Matt Price finished Arkansas off from there.

“These guys keep grinding,” Tanner said.

Friday’s win wasn’t without controversy, though.

Home plate umpire Perry Costello’s strike zone fluctuated all night long, so much so that no one seemed to have it figured out by game’s end. ESPN’s K-Zone did him no favors, either. Eight total players struck out looking. Arkansas tied a season-high with nine walks — SC’s game-tying run and go-ahead run were both walked in with the bases loaded.

And since South Carolina seemed to benefit from the border-line calls late, the first question that Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn fielded in the post-game press conference was about the umpiring crew. He wouldn’t comment.

“I would love to, but I can’t. I’m sorry,” Van Horn said.

The Gamecocks, the back-to-back national champions, will get a chance at a three-peat beginning Sunday, when they face Arizona in a best-of-three-series. The Wildcats are hot — but South Carolina won two games Thursday and was victorious again Friday, claiming three victories in a 36-hour stretch. Should be a fun series.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.

Comments

  1. Nancy Willcockson says:

    ESPN’s K-Zone showed that two “walks” that resulted in two of the three runs for South Carolina were actually given on strikes (which should have been inning-ending strike-outs). Perry Costello’s poor umpiring gave the game to South Carolina. Why does Perry continue to get to umpire in the College World Series for repeated seasons when he is known to have a reputation for erratic calls?

  2. J Crow says:

    Didn’t get to see the game, but I heard from many Hog fans that this was a poorly officiated game. That being said, being able to read so many articles about the officiating outside the state of Arkansas makes me wonder if Perry Costello has a personal vendetta against Arkansas. See Tempe 2010.

  3. Dan Skourup says:

    You got one things wrong, they are no longer the South Carolina Gamecocks. After the “gift” given to them by the horrific home plate umpire they have voted to call themselves the South Carolina Costellos from now on.

    This guy is no where near good enough to umpire a big game in the CWS, I wouldn’t want him to umpire my 8 year old daughters t-ball game

  4. Carl Goosen says:

    Van Horn can’t comment but I can This home plate ump should not be allowed to work any further games in the CWS That display was just sorry… to be kind

  5. Mark Colby says:

    While I don’t disagree with comments about Costello umpiring in the CWS, the real question is why is he umpiring anywhere. The ESPN crew commented more than once on his inconsistancy including a statement that Costello was squeezing Arkansas’ starter. And the K-Zone replays showed multiple instances when pitches that were clearly strikes were called balls and vice versa.
    It was a shameful performance for such an important tournament and the NCAA should be feeling that.

  6. William M. Heath says:

    This Perry Costello was fired from Major League Baseball – why would the NCAA pick up this guy? Perry Costello cost Arkansas
    into the 2012 College World Series FInals.

  7. William Heath says:

    Perry Costello’s calls caust Arkansas the Championship Series against Arizona. Perry Costello’s was
    fired my the Major Leagues – why would the NCAA hire Perry Costello to officiate in the NCAA College
    World Series.

  8. Michael O'Grady says:

    I don’t know who, from game to game, is umpiring. But, this is the least capable group of umpires I’ve ever seen in many years of playing and watching baseball. The guy that was behind the plate for CWS game 1 was terrible. The guy who’s behind the plate tonight, June 25, is absolutely atrocious. For those who don’t understand baseball, the pitchers benefit in two ways — first, they’re getting called strikes that are up to six inches out of the zone, and second, sooner or later, someone tells the batters (for both teams) that they’re going to have to go after everything that’s anywhere close. If it’s not over the ump’s head, or down in the dirt, it could be a strike with this ump, and you’d better go after it. This guy should never be allowed to ump another game of this level of importance.