COLUMBIA —This has been way more than simply the first big Florida-South Carolina sports clash not including a bunch of visitors in the stands wearing Tim Tebow jerseys.
It's the biggest non-football athletic show in Columbia in almost 40 years, dating to the basketball glory years of the late Frank McGuire.
As loud as college baseball gets, and the Southeastern Conference regular season title on the line before a record South Carolina home crowd of 8,242.
Two teams potentially headed for another meeting in the SEC tournament championship game, and maybe another clash in Omaha.
But, ugh, the Mighty Gamecocks have struck out. Sizzling Sam Dyson and Co. were done in Friday night by the great Josh Adams, a little second baseman batting in the Gators' ninth spot. He was hovering just above the Mendoza Line before erupting to lead No. 4 Florida to a 5-2 victory over No. 6 South Carolina.
This after a 3-2 Florida victory in the series opener Thursday night.
Drama never sleeps; South Carolina probably has to win today to avoid a sweep and maintain its grip on one of those precious eight national seeds in the NCAA tournament. Otherwise, a run to the SEC championship game might be required.
"I don't know (about seeding impact). I don't have enough knowledge on that," South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said. "But I know that we're going to do our best to try to win (today). We had an opportunity to become the regular season champion this weekend and that has gone by the wayside. But we go to the (SEC) tournament on Monday and we certainly would like to win a game this weekend. We'll be ready to play."
Pace yourself, Gamecock fans.
Drink plenty of healthy liquid.
Hope South Carolina doesn't peek ahead, or peak too early.
This pressure-packed, high-level baseball will go on a while, through next week's SEC tournament, an NCAA Regional, and probably a Super Regional and the College World Series.
Not like you don't want to win.
And regret not winning after losing.
Just that emotion management is part of the formula this time of year. If the Gamecocks handle that, a 2002-type deep run in Omaha is likely.
Here, you have a great view of the Columbia skyline (which looks pretty nice if you are really fond of the person sitting next to you).
The backdrop at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium is always better: A zoo just across the Missouri River, a dome-shaped theater, Iowa.
A .216 star
For the moment, the Gator bite still hurts.
What's more surprising?
That a player can hit .216 and start for Florida?
Or that young Mr. Adams went 3 for 4 with three runs batted in during a close, low-scoring, big, loud, pivotal game?
"It's great for the program," Adams said of the win. "It helps the coaches recruit. But we'll look forward to better things."
So will South Carolina.
The list includes: Avoid a sweep and maintain national seed status. Peak in June, not May.
And keep plenty of emotion in a tank large enough to get across the wide Missouri.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at email@example.com.
or (843) 937-5593.