What a beautiful day for baseball.
What an ugly week on deck.
Sun shined Saturday on Sonny Meade and his Citadel teammates, who completed a three-game sweep of cross-peninsula rival College of Charleston with a 7-0 victory at The Joe.
The sun also sets. That's all, folks, for college baseball in the Lowcountry this year.
Sadly and stupidly, the Southern Conference after a 19-year stay in Charleston has moved its postseason tournament to Greenville for 2009. When the action begins Wednesday at Flawed Field, you can expect tickets to move slower than liver and onion quesadillas.
Sure, Furman fans are excited. Both of them.
The Wofford crowd plans to upgrade to a mid-size car to get to the games.
Reportedly, a Greenville restaurant will stay open late, just in case.
But why mess with baseball success?
'Hard to duplicate'
Since 1990, the SoCon Tournament attracted good crowds and wide praise in Charleston.
Now in an economy shakier than the Atlanta Braves' bullpen, the show moves to a town struck with college baseball spirit only if the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament comes knocking. That hasn't happened since 1995.
We all understand political football.
This is baseball.
"It doesn't make much sense financially," former Citadel athletic director Walt Nadzak said Saturday.
Nadzak engineered the SoCon Baseball Tournament transfer from unprofitable Asheville to Charleston. The idea was outstanding even before the College of Charleston joined the league in 1999.
"It's going to be hard to duplicate the success they've had here," Nadzak said as he watched the Bulldogs and Cougars tangle in what might have been a SoCon Tournament preview game.
Too bad few people will enjoy the May madness. With top seeds Elon and Georgia Southern playing so well and 13 wins by SoCon teams over ranked non-conference teams, the league is having one of its best years. Three teams might qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The SoCon Tournament comes back to The Joe for 2010 with sites in 2011 and beyond to be determined later.
The Bulldogs and Cougars will pack plenty of positives for their bus rides to the Upcountry.
The Citadel celebrated Senior Day by going 9-for-9: All of head coach Fred Jordan's four-year players will graduate.
The College of Charleston probably fell off the NCAA Tournament at-large bubble, but might return with a climb to the SoCon championship game.
Cougars junior Joey Bergman leads the nation in hitting (.465) and runs scored (86) and is putting up numbers reminiscent of current New York Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner's college days. Likely, the Jacksonville, Fla., native will extend the College of Charleston's streak of elite SoCon awards winners. Lee Curtis (2002 and 2003) and Jeremie Tice were named league Player of the Year. Ryan Johnson (2004), Brett Harker (2005) and Nick Chigges (2006 and 2007) were named Pitcher of the Year.
But The Citadel was "Thank you, sir! May I have another?" dominant during a series that began with both teams 17-10 in SoCon play.
"Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!" roared from behind the home dugout in the top of the ninth inning.
It felt like a throwback Citadel series and the timing was eerily sweet. The Bulldogs used that first SoCon Tournament in Charleston to vault into an NCAA Tournament in which they made it all the way to the College World Series.
Minus home-field advantage, this week's momentum will come in handy for the Bulldogs.
On to Greenville, and less green for the Southern Conference.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5593.