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Florida-S. Carolina rivalry about to heat up again
OMAHA, NEB. (AP) - Florida and South Carolina don’t immediately come to mind when you’re talking about Southeastern Conference rivalries _ unless it’s baseball.
The Gators (53-17) and defending national champion Gamecocks (53-14) play their biggest series to date when they meet in the College World Series finals beginning Monday.
Three months ago, South Carolina went to Florida and won two of three, and the teams ended up in a three-way tie with Vanderbilt for the best record in the league.
Yes, anticipation for this championship series has been brewing for a while.
“You know, if all you guys went away and there were no fans and we were on the back sandlot, I’m not sure it would be any different,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said Sunday. “I think they love to play. We love to play. Yeah, there’s a lot more at stake now than there ever was before. But it’s really genuine baseball. Let’s go.”
O'Sullivan said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley wanted a program that would be competitive year in and year out. O'Sullivan said a team has to get lots of breaks to be in position to play for a national title.
“It was all about consistency and being one of the elite programs in the country,” he said. “I’ve never put a timetable on it. This league is too difficult. I think if you get too far ahead of yourself and look too far ahead, then you’ll find yourself in some trouble.”
Preston Tucker, who has a home run and team-leading six RBIs in the College World Series, said last year’s 0-2 finish in Omaha left him and his teammates hungry for more.
By Tammy Bruce
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