South Carolina has a chance to do something special this evening. If the Gamecocks can top UCLA, they will become the final National Champion crowned at Rosenblatt Stadium. It would stand as the first-ever championship for the school in baseball. The championship would also be just the second National Title by any sport at the school outside of women’s equestrian. But more importantly, a championship victory for the Gamecocks would bring many happy tears to a family in the stands.
USC has dedicated its championship run to 7-year old Bayler Teal, a little boy who lost a nearly two year battle with cancer on Thursday. When players began to mention young Bayler’s name in pre and post game interviews and dedicated the championship run to him, his family decided to make the trip to Omaha to support the team playing in their son’s honor.
Bayler had been battling a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma. The young man had spoke to the team on a couple of occasions and now, though he cannot be in the stands, serves as an inspiration. Michael Roth, who hadn’t started a game all year, was given the ball and asked to pitch in a must win situation. Roth hurled a complete game and the Gamecocks survived. He dedicated that performance to the memory of young Bayler.
When you watch the game tonight take notice of the USC players. They have written the letters “BT” on the side of their caps.
No matter who wins the National Championship, both are playing for the school’s first such title in baseball and both are playing for the memory of someone.
While one team is playing for a legendary coach who inspired the world, the other is playing for a boy who will not get the chance to experience life but inspired a team.