South Carolina Win Good for SEC, Gators

When the South Carolina Gamecocks beat UCLA Tuesday night to win the College World Series it was more than the biggest win in school history. It was a good sign for the SEC in general and the Florida Gators in particular. For Carolina it was amazingly enough the first NCAA Title in any men's sport and just the second overall.

Florida, by comparison has won 24 national titles through the years, 12 men's and 12 women's.

But seeing South Carolina celebrating in Omaha has to provide plenty of incentive and motivation for the Gators going forward. Florida knows it was good enough to win it all last season, and they'll be good enough to win it all next year, too.

It was just five weeks ago that the Gators headed to Columbia to have a showdown series with the Gamecocks. The teams were tied atop the SEC standings (20-7) and whichever squad won the series would have the SEC Title to itself.

Florida took the opener 3-2 behind 5.1 innings of two hit relief from the Gator bullpen. Tyler Thompson homered to support the effort and the Gators were one win from ordering rings.

The next day it was Josh Adams driving in three runs and another strong bullpen effort (3.1 scoreless) paving the way for a 5-2 win and the Gators were SEC Champs.

So Florida knows it can beat South Carolina head-to-head and they know the Gamecocks were good enough to win it all while the Gators left Omaha after just two games. That has to be a bit comforting, a bit aggravating and a bit exciting. The 2011 Gators should return 40 of 47 wins on the mound and 67 of 83 HR at the plate. They'll come back as defending SEC champs, but with knowledge they could have been even more.

The SEC has won eight of the last 21 College World Series, six by LSU and one each by Georgia and South Carolina. The Gators will spend every day between now and next February trying to figure out what to do to add their name to that list.

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