Carolina Baseball 2012, Poetic Justice

“At the end of the year, or the end of the job, if the cumulative effort is good enough, you get a chance to go to the postseason, and that is where it all starts.” — head coach Ray Tanner

“The 2011 Gamecocks annihilated opponents. 

“As a team, South Carolina in 2011 finished with a 1.31 ERA in 10 NCAA Tournament games.  The Gamecocks’ bullpen finished 6-0 with five saves and an incredible 0.53 ERA in 33.2 innings of work in the NCAA College World Series Tournament games.  They did not allow a single, extra-base hit during the entire tournament.

“Freshmen – fresh boys – would take their places.

“Despite the loss of key veterans, Tanner’s vision for 2012’s recruiting class and veterans remained upbeat, even confident.  He knew by the numbers that a lot of veteran players with outstanding performances under their belts, who stayed, would continue to perform at high levels.  Veteran senior, Friday-night ace and All-American Michael Roth stayed on this year, as did All-American, junior closer Matt Price.  Nolan Belcher; Ethan Carter; Colby Holmes; Adam Westmoreland; Tyler Webb; Patrick Sullivan, Logan Munson and Hunter Privette stayed.  Forrest Koumas, who made the SEC All-Freshman Team and finished at 6-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 19 games and 12 starts, stayed.

“The biggest question in the minds of Garnet & Black coaches and fans was whether the new infield would gel into a working unit early enough in the season to give them a chance at the end.  The infield situation — to get back to Omaha would be a lot to ask of freshman players, but they would work on it.”

Thus begins the story of the 2012 Gamecocks’ run toward a historic, 3-peat national championship …

copyright 2012, Ronald Joseph Kule All Rights Reserved.

Gamecocks Baseball Transitions

We congratulate Coach Tanner for his new position of Athletics Director for the University of South Carolina.  We welcome new, baseball head coach, Chad Holbrook, who will do well in his new position in the coming season(s).   These changes come as new steps in a journey that began in 1892 with the inception of the baseball program in Columbia, S.C.

For a look back at the history of the game of baseball, Carolina’s storied history and the players and coaches, which played the game as Gamecocks, the book, Carolina Baseball: Pressure Makes Diamonds by J. David Miller & Ron Kule, foreword by Head Coach Ray Tanner, is the definitive account.Image Special, Limited Edition, leather-bound (real baseball leather) copies are available while supplies last only. These are collector’s items; some are numbered and may be signed by coach Tanner.

The book tells the story of Gamecocks baseball from 1892 — and the story of baseball from before that — right through the back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011 under Coach Tanner. Buy your limited edition copies through www.theraytannerfoundation.org or at a Jewelry Warehouse outlet in Columbia, S.C.

(Photo courtesy of Sherry Kule.  Subject: co-authors, J. David Miller & Ron Kule at TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, NE at the 2012 College World Series Finals.)

2012 College World Series in Omaha

My sister called me the night the Carolina Gamecocks qualified to play against the Arizona Wildcats in the 2012 College World Series Division I Finals series, “Ron, we didn’t make a plan.”

I replied, “What do you mean?”

She said, “Well, you wrote the book, Carolina Baseball: Pressure Makes Diamonds, didn’t you?  And they just qualified for the Finals … we never planned our flights, hotels and itinerary to watch them in Omaha!”

“Uh, er … sister, it wasn’t in the budget,” I stammered, but she cut me off, “Well, it’s in mine now and we’re all going — you and your wife, me and your co-author — and I’m paying for it.  You just have to work out the details, because I don’t like doing that part.”

Within an hour I had all flights, hotels and game tickets arranged.  The next evening we were in Omaha at our seats near first base in T.D. Ameritrade Park.  At the announcement, we stood for the National Anthem and showing of the colors and then we saw and heard the squad of four F-16s fly right over us.  Exciting!

It was a dream-come-true for me and J David Miller, my co-author, to be there watching the Gamecocks.  We wrote about two CWS seasons and the Gamecocks’ wins without ever having been to Rosenblatt Stadium or this new park.

Well, the Gamecocks made the two Finals games interesting, but they lost both.   The series-winning game ended with Gamecocks on all bases in the ninth inning with two outs and one of their best hitters at the plate.  A Grand Slam would have put them ahead 5-4, but the fly ball caught the incoming wind, changed its arc and was caught for the final out and a Wildcats’ dog pile.

The tired Carolina team had fought so valiantly for so long to eliminate all other opponents they faced, and the Wildcats had won all of their games and came to the Finals well-rested by three days’ rest.  Arizona proved to be the best team this year.

However, for writers the good comes with the bad; the highs and lows of life, living and sports are all part of what we absorb and process on the way to writing new articles or books.   The experience of all that we saw, heard and felt in Omaha indelibly changed us forever.

Our book has a purpose to help Coach Tanner build a Miracle League ballpark for kids with bodies that are physically challenged to play baseball in Columbia, S.C.  “… as close as possible to Carolina Stadium,” according to Tanner.  Book purchases contribute funds to that goal, and our story of the Gamecocks program, which started in 1892, is actually a platform for life-lessons and insights that kids of all ages will find timeless and uplifting. http://www.theraytannerfoundation.org is where to purchase the hard-copy edition.  For more information, our Facebook page is where you can follow our development of the E-book version and more.  http://www.facebook.com/carolinabaseballpressuremakesdiamondsbook