USC fans celebrate at arena

  • Follow Baseball

COLUMBIA --- Carlton Thompson thought life couldn't get much better than last year, when after four decades of suffering through South Carolina sports, he watched the Gamecocks win the national championship in baseball.

Fans gathered at Colonial Life Arena to watch the USC Gamecocks take on the Florida Gators. The crowd grew along with the excitement as the team took home its second consecutive national title.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Fans gathered at Colonial Life Arena to watch the USC Gamecocks take on the Florida Gators. The crowd grew along with the excitement as the team took home its second consecutive national title.

But Tuesday night was even better as he celebrated with hundreds of fans watching the game on the big scoreboard screens at the college's basketball arena as the Gamecocks beat Florida 5-2 to win a second championship at the College World Series.

"It's been awhile, and now back to back? I feel like I'm walking on water," said Thompson, whose stringy long hair and black-and-grey beard have earned him the nickname Baseline Jesus among South Carolina fans.

As South Carolina baseball announcer Andy Demetra screamed, "They've done it again. Back to back for the garnet and black," Thompson tossed up his worn Gamecocks flag. Other fans posed for pictures with the TV screens in the background.

Jeff Rivers celebrated South Carolina's baseball title last season by running outside his home with his family and taunting a neighbor who was a Clemson fan.

This season he leaped with joy at Colonial Life Arena, slapping hands and sharing hugs with fans as he watched the final out.

"I wanted to see them win it this time in a bigger atmosphere," Rivers said. "If you can't be there, I guess this is the next best place."

The fans got more rowdy as the final outs were recorded. Many of them leaped from their seats as soft-hitting Peter Mooney hit only his fourth home run of the season in the sixth inning. They gave starter Michael Roth a standing ovation when he left in the eighth and roared when closer Matt Price got a strikeout to wrap up the eighth.

The team's amazing run through two College World Series has been a bright spot in a mostly dreary century of athletics for the Gamecocks.

Last year's national championship was the first in a men's sport and just in second in any sport for the school's athletic teams.

During this year's postseason run, South Carolina won four games in extra innings and seven of those games by one run.

"It's been bad on my heart and my hair," Rivers said.


Loading...