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College World Series 2012: South Carolina, Arizona Begin Championship Series On Sunday

The South Carolina Gamecocks are two wins away from a third-straight College World Series title, but they'll have to get past one of the hottest teams in the country to do so.

To simply reach the Finals, Ray Tanner's Gamecock squad had to beat Kent State and Arkansas (twice) in a 36-hour span. That's been the hallmark of this South Carolina program over the past few years: resiliency. South Carolina (49-18) replaced five starters from last season's National Championship team but got nice contributions from guys like LB Dantzler and, of course, ace lefty Michael Roth to get back to Omaha.

For all the hoopla surrounding Carolina, this Arizona squad seems content to sit in the background and simply play ball. The Wildcats (46-17) have won eight straight postseason games and have yet to lose in the NCAA Tournament. They're seeking the program's fourth national title.

Arizona, led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Alex Mejia, Johnny Field, Robert Refsnyder and Bobby Brown, among others, finished fourth in the country this season in batting average (.330) and sixth in scoring (7.4 runs per game).

The Wildcats will send sophomore righty Konner Wade (10-3) to the hill in Game 1. Wade spun a complete-game five-hit shutout of UCLA in Arizona's CWS opener. Tanner is undecided on a starter for the Gamecocks.

First pitch on ESPN2 is scheduled for 8 pm Eastern.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Baseball Tournament, stay right here with SB Nation Cleveland's StoryStream. Hustle Belt has more coverage of Kent State and the Mid-American Conference.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.