OMAHA, Neb. -- After Friday's batting practice at Rosenblatt Stadium, during which USC hitters pounded ball after ball into and over the outfield seats, coach Ray Tanner said his team had "won the 5 o'clock game," a joking euphemism for the best round of batting practice.
The last foursome included Nick Ebert and Parker Bangs, who both mashed ball after ball upwards of 400 feet. As the two right-handed power hitters crushed long home runs, they drew the attention of the Arizona State hitters, who were lined up to take the field next. USC hitting coach Chad Holbrook, with a big smile, called his final group, which also included Michael Roth hammering balls out from the left side, "the goon squad."
After another strong round of batting practice at Bellevue East High on Saturday, which produced another flurry of long homers into neighborhood yards, Tanner pronounced himself happy with the results. He just hopes they transfer to today's game.
Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway is aware that USC, while lacking a primary home run threat, is capable of hitting for power.
"We respect the guys in South Carolina's lineup that can hit the ball a long ways," Golloway said. "And I think the balance we see in there represents the greatest challenge."
No BP for you
Michael Johnson got the itch. Leggett wouldn't let him scratch it, but he couldn't keep from smiling.
A first baseman on Clemson's 2002 College World Series team, Johnson hit home runs in games against Georgia Tech and South Carolina. As he watched balls fly out of Rosenblatt during batting practice Friday, Johnson asked if he could take a few cuts, but Leggett told him they couldn't afford to lose any more balls.
Young fan hit in jaw
South Carolina's final practice before today's College World Series opener was brought to a sudden halt at Bellevue East High when a young fan was hit by a batted ball.
Brady Thomas sent a ball over the right-center field fence and it struck 12-year-old Austin Lampman of Omaha in the jaw. South Carolina athletic trainers and Lampman's mother, Julie, raced to his side as several Gamecocks stood and watched.
Lampman's jaw was fine, although the baseball left stitch marks on his jaw when he later sat in the USC dugout. Thomas was the first South Carolina player to autograph Lampman's USC shirt.
Tiger Bites and Carolina Game Crunch
eCreamery, which specializes in "gourmet custom ice cream," has created flavors representing each team participating in this year's tournament.
Tiger Bites consists of coffee ice cream with Heath Bar and chocolate. Carolina Game Crunch is comprised of vanilla ice cream with peanuts and chocolate.
The flavors are available for shipping.