South Carolina Gamecock fans packed Carolina Stadium Friday for opening day of the 2012 college baseball season against Virginia Military Institute. The team is coming off back to back national championships and kicked off their title defense with a 2-1 victory.
Fans like Chris Fulmer, who drove from Aiken, arrived early to tailgate and had plenty of hot dogs, chips, dip and beer.
"We have a great tailgate group. Its a tradition to come out on the first game of the year. This year it is a little different winning back to back. Everybody is having a good time."
Like most fans, Fulmer is devoted to the team; even traveling with them to witness history.
"We've been to Omaha the last two years. We drove there and back straight through."
That success has translated into money. Cockytown Retail Store Co-Owner Brenda Fraley opened her store Friday across the street from Columbia Stadium. She said it has been a rush for memorabilia.
"For our first day we have had good sales. Our expectations are really high and above anything else."
Even former players from championship teams like Bobby Haney came back to remember the accomplishment one final time. He said it is bittersweet.
"I want to get on the field. I miss it. But it is great to see the guys. I'm happy for the current players. The new guys know what is at stake. There is a lot of anticipation, a lot riding on this year. The fans want us to do good and get back to Omaha. They've got some of the best players in the country again."
"And Gamecock Nation believes those players are starting the long journey to complete the trifecta and turn the program into a dynasty.