NOTEBOOK: Decisions, decisions

OMAHA, Neb. -- South Carolina head baseball coach Ray Tanner is going to have to do something he hasn't done in a long time: make up his mind about which line-up to use. Find out why plus more notes from the Sunday night's South Carolina-Texas A&M game.

There may not be a team in the country that has had more injuries this season than South Carolina. But the one positive from that all season long for head coach Ray Tanner was that there were few decisions to make about who to start.

Those days may be over.

When Tanner makes out his line-up card Sunday for his Gamecocks' match-up with Texas A&M, he'll have several more options available than when the postseason started.

One of the biggest storylines of the entire College World Series has been the potential return of All-SEC center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. who had been out with a wrist injury since April 23.

Bradley took batting practice with no pain for the third day in a row Saturday, and while Tanner hasn't named him a starter yet, the signs that Bradley will be on that card are mounting up.

"I can't say for sure [that he'll start] but he really looks good to me," Tanner said. "I know that he's missed a lot of reps, but physically he seems to be in really, really good shape. Mentally, he's off the charts right now ready to go, which that makes a lot of difference as well. I expect him to be in there, possibly."

Tanner's decision may have been easier Friday.

At the time he said that Evan Marzilli, who started the season in left field but has played center in Bradley's absence, wouldn't have played had Carolina had a game that day. Marzilli was banged up earlier this year, but got healthy before tweaking a hamstring this week.

Saturday Marzilli had made marked improvement from just a day ago and is seemingly right back in the conversation

"Today, he looks a lot better," Tanner said. "He's able to sprint a little bit. Coach (Chad) Holbrook said he looked pretty good in the cage to him. We've got a decision to make."

The Gamecocks' opening day starting right fielder, Adam Matthews, also got back healthy for the postseason but hasn't had an at-bat since a pinch-hit appearance in the SEC Tournament.

But it's not like the Gamecocks have struggled. If anything, they've banded together and found a way to win in the absence of some of their best players.

Leaving Tanner with the question: stick with the players who got him to Omaha or insert those who started over them earlier in the season?

"That's the thing that is the real stickler for me right now," "There's no question that the last two or three weeks I've wanted to get Matthews in there, and now I want to get Bradley in there [and] keep Marzilli in there.

"But (Steven) Neff and Jake Williams are two guys that were there for us, Robert Beary and his multi-positional play. Part of you doesn't want to change anything, the other part is you want to put a pretty good team out there, so got to wrestle with it a little bit."

What direction will Tanner go? While speculation can be dangerous, Tanner did say that catcher/designated hitter Brady Thomas, who has also been hurt, would definitely play. He also said that catcher/outfielder Beary would likely catch meaning Thomas would definitely DH.

Should Bradley and Marzilli wake up Sunday feeling fine, reading between the lines, Tanner's most likely outfield line-up would probably be Marzilli in left, Bradley in center and Williams in right with Neff and Matthews being the two left out.

Long Road to Omaha

Texas A&M may have made it to the College World Series but it can't be accused of taking the easy route.

The Aggies lost their first regional championship game to Arizona 7-4 before bouncing back and clinching with a 3-0 victory.

At the Tallahassee Super Regional, A&M won the first game before getting dispatched 23-9 in game-two. They bounced back to win 11-2 in the decider to become the only team in Omaha to win a road super regional.

The Aggies did that without former ace John Stilson, who they found out was out for the season during the Big 12 Tournament.

"I think on our kids had some tangible evidence that said, hey, we can make it through a regional, and [we] went to the if-necessary game in our super regional, [and the] if-necessary game in the regional," head coach Rob Childress said. "We played as many games as you can play in the postseason but found a way."

South Carolina has won all five of its tournament games and holds an 11-game win streak dating back to its second game in Omaha last year.

Shared Championships

South Carolina and Texas A&M both had outstanding records in conference play. But both teams also had to share their titles with other conference foes.

The Aggies finished 19-8 in Big 12 play but had to share their with Texas.

South Carolina finished the regular season 22-8 in SEC play. Despite taking two of three games from both Florida and Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks shared the title with the Gators and Commodores.

A&M went on to win the Big 12 Tournament Championship while Florida won the SEC Tournament.

All five teams made the College World Series field of eight.

Extra bases:

- Texas A&M was the only road team to win a super regional this season.

- Texas A&M is making its fifth all-time appearance in the College World Series, and its first since the 1999 season ... the Aggies also made it to Omaha in 1951, 1964 and 1993.

- The Aggies sport an all-time CWS record of 2-8, with victories coming in 1991 (over Ohio State) and 1993 (over Kansas).

- A&M is 1-3 all-time in CWS openers.

- South Carolina and Texas A&M have never faced in baseball.

- The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET first pitch on ESPN2.


The winner of the match-up will face the winner of Sunday's Virginia/California game while the loser will face the loser of that game. The winner's bracket game is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET June 21 while the loser's bracket game is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET the same day.

June 18
Game 1 - Vanderbilt defeated North Carolina 7-3
Game 2 - Florida defeated Texas 8-4
June 19
Game 3 - California vs. Virginia
Game 4 - Texas A&M vs. South Carolina
June 20
Game 5 - North Carolina vs. Texas
Game 6 - Vanderbilt vs. Florida
June 21
Game 7 - Loser G3 vs. Loser G4
Game 8 - Winner G3 vs. Winner G4
June 22
Game 9 - Winner G5 vs. Loser G6
June 23
Game 10 - Winner G7 vs. Loser G8
June 24
Game 11 - Winner G9 vs. Winner G6
Game 12 - Winner G10 vs. Winner G8
June 25
Game 13 (if necessary) - If winner of G9 also wins G11
Game 14 (if necessary) - If winner of G10 also wins G12
June 27-29

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories