OMAHA, Neb. - The 2012 College World Series begins today as teams meet with the media, practice on the field at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, and are honored at the Opening Ceremonies. Today is the calm before the storm of what is potentially 17 games in 12 days.
Senior Michael Roth will start on Saturday against Florida at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN
The Gamecocks (45-17) and the rest of the teams arrived in Omaha on Tuesday and most of the teams found some time to hit the practice field, if only for a brief time, to stretch their legs and get ready to vie for a national championship.
Everything will kick into high gear today as South Carolina’s side of the bracket will meet with the media at Noon EDT and will be streamed on www.NCAA.com. The press conference should last around an hour with the other half of the bracket speaking at 3 p.m.
There are two big pieces of news expected to be announced later today. What will be interesting is to see which pitcher Florida will throw against South Carolina in the opener on Saturday night at 9 p.m. The seemingly obvious choice would be right-hander Hudson Randall but the Gators’ (47-18) is contemplating throwing left-hander Brian Johnson, who has pitched very well against the Gamecocks this season.
Senior Michael Roth out-dueled Randall in the opening game of the three-game series earlier this season while Johnson dominated the Gamecocks at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. just a few short weeks ago. Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is expected to announce his starter at the press conference today.
South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner will address the status of freshman Grayson Greiner, who was active for the Super Regional against Oklahoma but did not play. Did an extra week of recovery help Greiner enough to get him back into the starting lineup? Or will he stick with junior Dante Rosenberg, who has been remarkable defensively since being inserted into the lineup for the postseason.
The Gamecocks will be the final of eight teams to practice on Thursday taking the field at 5 p.m. for approximately an hour. It will be just an average batting practice session and players will take ground balls but it will be the first time that the newcomers have taken the field at TD Ameritrade.
The team will be treated to a BBQ dinner provided by the College World Series after cleaning up after practice. Following supper, the opening ceremonies will begin around 9:30 p.m. and last around 90 minutes. Nomar Garciaparra and the U.S. Army Gold Knights parachute team are the headliners of the event for many, although some will be there just to see Roth.
South Carolina will have its team photo by the iconic statue at the entrance behind home plate at 4 p.m. The team will then sign autographs for fans on the concourse of the stadium after their practice session from 6:30 to 7 p.m.
Freshman Tanner English will have his first experience at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha today at 5 p.m. for practice
The team boarded the busses at 10:30 after a rousing send-off from a few hundred fans at Carolina Stadium. Tanner, Roth, and University president Harris Pastides all addressed the crowd from a makeshift stage erected in front of the back-to-back national championship banner.
Tanner thanked the crowd for showing up and said he hoped to see a much larger group at the Colonial Life Arena in a couple of weeks with some new hardware to show off.
“Thank you for your enthusiasm. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your inspiration,” Tanner said. “These guys are good players, but it makes a difference when you show up and you become that tenth man.”
The team landed safely in Omaha early Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Hilton Hotel located just up the road from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Many of the players posted pictures to their Twitter account of their view of the ballpark from their room. This year’s location, which is assigned at random by the College World Series officials, is much more desirable than last year’s spot, which was located on the outskirts of town.
After checking in, the team had a light practice at a local high school and signed some autographs for fans before heading back to the hotel. It was a night to relax on Wednesday as the College World Series begins today.
Things to do
One of the most popular attractions is Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, which is located right outside of Rosenblatt Stadium at 3701 S. 10th Street. It’s $13.50 for adults, $9 for children and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The zoo is ranked No. 1 nationally by TripAdvisor and features every kind of exhibit that one could dream. The zoo features the “Desert Dome,” which is a 13 story building featuring plant and animal life from the Namib Desert of southern Africa, the Red Center of Australia, and the Sonoran Desert of the southwest United States.
When finished cleaning up after a day at the zoo, head over to The Drover for your first piece of dead cow in the capital city of steaks. If it’s your first trip, be sure you have your steak done in the whiskey marinade that The Drover, located at 2121 S. 73rd St., is famous for. Expect to spend more than a few bucks, but be sure to order the bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp to go along with your steak and salad. Thank me later.
***All times listed are Eastern***
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