OMAHA, NE - JUNE 24: Chase Vergason #16 of the South Carolina Gamecocks stretches for a throw for an error by the catcher as Johnny Field #1 of the Arizona Wildcats steals second base in the fifth inning during game 1 of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Field on June 24, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
It's way too early to start saying that South Carolina's nascent dynasty in college baseball is about to come crashing down around them. There are two games left in this one, and the Gamecocks will send their best two starters to the mound in Michael Roth and Jordan Montgomery. It's not over yet.
But Arizona's 5-1 win in the first game of the College World Series Finals on Sunday puts South Carolina closer to losing the national baseball championship than they've been in a long time. Since the championship series began as part of a format change in 2003, only two teams have come back from losing the first game to win the three-game set. In five of those nine series, the team that won the first game swept.
So South Carolina's run of titles is hanging on by the thinnest of of strands right now. It wasn't even really that close. Arizona put two runs on the board in the first inning and scored again in the third to put the Gamecocks on the defensive. South Carolina was down 4-0 before it managed a run in the sixth. That was one of just two innings in which the Gamecocks got more than one hit.
Things went wrong elsewhere on the field as well. The team with one of the best fielding percentages in all of college baseball made two errors. The seventh inning -- the other frame that featured two hits -- was blown up after a terrible running play led to the infamous first out at third. The five runs allowed by South Carolina pitching was the most a tournament opponent has put on the board since last year's Columbia Regional.
Yes, South Carolina has rallied from similar situations in the past. At the same time, there are only so many times that any team can expect to do it. Luck, a critical element to any run like the one the Gamecocks have been on, eventually runs out. It was Yogi Berra who famously said that it isn't over until it's over, but another one of his quips seems more fitting here. On Sunday night, it appeared to be getting late early for the Gamecocks.