At some point or another, the ride has to end for South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.
But, for now, the Gamecocks keep on winning and will ride their NCAA-record winning streak of 19 games into the Super Regionals thanks to a win over Manhattan and two victories over arch-rival Clemson.
The Gamecocks picked up three straight stellar pitching performances from Colby Holmes, Michael Roth and Jordan Montgomery and came up with just enough juice to get past Clemson and advance to the Super Regionals for the third straight season.
Here's a quick rundown of each game from this past weekend's Regional play for the Gamecocks:
- Friday - Colby Holmes was the story of the day when he threw eight innings of one-hit baseball. Holmes carried a no-hitter into the eight inning before giving up a hit to outfield Joe Rock of Manhattan. Holmes struck out nine batters on the evening. The offensive side of the ball was led by Adam Matthews with two hits on the day with three RBI. First baseman Christian Walker hit his 11th homerun of the season as well. USC beats Manhattan 7-0 to face Clemson in Game 2.
- Saturday - This was the perfect reason as to why Clemson and South Carolina were matched up in Regional play. Gamecocks battled Clemson all day long but got a game-winning hit from LB Dantzler in the bottom of the 12th inning to win 5-4. Michael Roth pitched 6.1 innings with three walks to just one strikeout. Matt Price picked it up after Roth striking out four batters before the Gamecocks gave Tyler Webb and Evan Beal the ball to close it out for USC. Adam Matthews once again starred for USC with two hits and two RBI and LB Dantzler also had two hits to go along with his game-winning RBI single.
- Sunday - Gamecocks and Tigers were matched up again with USC needed one win to advance to the Super Regionals. Clemson made it tough but South Carolina hung on with a tough outing from Tyler Webb to save the day for USC. Webb threw 2.1 innings of shutout baseball and had four strikeouts to earn the save following a great performance from freshman Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery pitched 6.2 innings with six strikeouts to just one walk and gave up only two runs on the day. LB Dantzler and Tanner English led the way with two hits each and Adam Matthews added another RBI onto his weekend totals. Gamecocks win a close 4-3.
It's easy to see why the NCAA wanted Clemson and South Carolina to play each other in the regionals this year. These two teams always bring out the best in each other and both games played featured tension, comebacks, big plays and a ton of emotion out of two teams that just don't like each other.
Give South Carolina credit for finding a way, once again, to win the close game. It seems like all USC does is win when it gets to the NCAA Tournament and that statement held true once again this weekend. The impressive thing to me is the play of the young players on this team. Tanner English, Joey Pankake and Jordan Montgomery all added some memorable moments this past weekend. USC had a lot to replace this offseason but Ray Tanner has these guys playing winning baseball at just the right time.
If South Carolina can keep up the pitching performances and timely hitting, I don't see why they can't make another run to the College World Series. They are a great team up and down the lineup and have the best coaching staff in the nation.
South Carolina now will wait until Monday night to find out who they will host from the Charlottesville Regional. Appalachian State has already advance to the finals in the regional and will face Oklahoma, who coincidentally, is the last team to beat South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.
I'm sure they'd love another crack at the Gamecocks.
And South Carolina will be ready and waiting. Bring it on.