COLUMBIA, S.C. — Three things we observed during South Carolina’s 10-5 Regional clinching win over UNCW on Tuesday afternoon at Founders Park.
1.They bounced back, again
It’s been a theme for the Gamecocks’ throughout the extended weekend at the Columbia Regional. After suffering a loss to Friday night’s opener against Rhode Island, South Carolina had their backs against the wall all weekend, just one more loss away from elimination.
In both wins over UNCW, South Carolina faced early 1-0 deficits, before answering with five-run innings. Tuesday’s rally started with a bases-loaded, no-out single from Alex Destino, to plate the Gamecocks’ first two runs. Two batters later, Madison Stokes singled in two more. Another was pushed across on a sacrifice bunt by DC Arendas.
South Carolina tacked on two more in the sixth and another in the seventh on Arendas’ solo home run. After UNCW’s four-run eighth, the Gamecocks answered with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth when John Jones doubled off the wall in right-center.
2. Kings of the hill
In Sunday’s 23-2 blowout win over Rhode Island, South Carolina needed just two pitchers. Starter Adam Hill gave Chad Holbrook seven strong innings, giving up three hits and two runs with six strikeouts over four walks. In the nightcap, Tyler Johnson was electric. The reliever, who was making just his second career start, threw a complete game, retiring 11 UNCW hitters on strikes.
That, along with Monday’s postponement, gave Holbrook plenty of arms to use on Tuesday.
Taylor Widener pitched the first four innings on Tuesday, giving way to Josh Reagan, who threw into the eighth. Ace Clarke Schmidt was called out of the bullpen with no outs and the bases-loaded. Before the four-run, four-hit inning began, UNCW scored once with five hits.
Save for that one frame, the South Carolina pitching staff stifled a UNCW team that entered NCAA Tournament play as one of the best hitting teams in the country. Seven of the nine batters in the Seahawks’ starting lineup in the Regional finale arrived to Founders Park with batting averages over .300. Four had 10 or more homers.
3. Home field advantage
It pays to host during postseason play. Despite Tuesday afternoon’s first pitch time of 2 o’clock, the Gamecock faithful turned out and turned up. Tuesday’s announced attendance of 7,004 was the highest of the weekend. In South Carolina’s first four games of the Regional, the average attendance was 5,675. Friday night’s crowd of 6,823 was the second highest single-game total of the Regional.
South Carolina will play host to Oklahoma State in the Super Regional, for the right to move on to the College World Series. The best-of-three series begins Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.
South Carolina punches its ticket to the Super Regional, to play Oklahoma State. First pitch is Saturday at 3. pic.twitter.com/9YciWJqeOE
— Hale McGranahan (@Hale_AJC) June 7, 2016