'Cocks of the walk

South Carolina deservedly repeats as college baseball champion

This particular flag flying over the South Carolina capitol won't cause any angst. Only pride.

The University of South Carolina flag was ordered to fly by Gov. Nikki Haley this week in honor of the school's amazing second College World Series championship in a row.

The entire Southeastern Conference can be proud: To win the title, USC had to defeat conference rival Florida.

But back-to-back championships? Truly that's the stuff of powerhouses. A lot of balls and strikes and swings and misses and throws and tags have to go your way in the course of a season to win just one national title. To do it again is astonishing.

And the Gamecocks did it in dramatic fashion, surviving a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth in a tied Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series Monday night. In two cases, South Carolina had to field ground balls and throw runners out at the plate in the inning; otherwise, it was game to Florida.

On one of the plays, the second baseman, with the infielders moved in toward the plate, had to dive and backhand a grounder and fire home -- where the catcher caught his throw backhanded and on the short-hop in time to force an out at the plate. Sterling, clutch plays on both ends.

After that, the Gamecocks won 2-1 in extra innings and, with that momentum, took Game 2 and the trophy the next night.

It's a truly remarkable achievement for the school -- and a feather in the cap of Coach Ray Tanner. With so many maneuvers and subtle decisions a coach must make over the course of one game, much less a series or a season, these back-to-back championships say plenty about the guy, as well as the kind of school that would hire him.

But as much as anyone, that flag flew over the capitol for the players.

They'll never forget this. And neither will we.

South Carolina wins national title

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