The defensive play in the 2011 NCAA Baseball tournament has been...well, let's just say it has left something to be desired. If we're being nice, it's been a bit disappointing. When new fans of college baseball first check it out during the tournament, the biggest difference that they'll notice between college and professional baseball is the defense. That's exactly what made South Carolina's win over Florida in Game 1 of the 2011 College World Series so special.
South Carolina's bats were more or less shut down by Florida's excellent pitching staff, which was expected, so they needed some great play on the other end to grind out a win. Their pitching was on point, but their defense was better. With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, SC got out of the inning and forced extras with a great out at home on a fielder's choice, followed by a double play. An inning later, Cody Dent had a chance to end the game when he took off for home on a Mike Zunino single, but he was thrown out by left fielder Jake Williams.
Meanwhile, the Florida Gators committed three errors during the game, including two in the top of the 11th inning, when South Carolina scored the winning run. Florida's bats and pitchers were just as good as, if not better than South Carolina, but the Gamecocks' defense made the difference on Monday. In Game 2, they'll be facing a tough pitcher in Karsten Whitson and the same bats, so they might need the exact same defensive effort to win the Championship Series in two games.
Check back with this StoryStream for more updates on the College World Series. And for more on these schools, check out SB Nation's Florida blog, Alligator Army, and our South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack.