The Daily Gamecock

Despite loss, Holbrook's outlook positive

USC Head Coach Chad Holbrook talks to ESPN in game 2 of the series.
USC Head Coach Chad Holbrook talks to ESPN in game 2 of the series.

Head coach praises players, looks forward to next season

For just the second time in his five years as a member of South Carolina’s coaching staff, Chad Holbrook’s season ended without a trip to the College World Series.

However, this location of the season’s last pitch was not the only factor that made the 2013 campaign different.

Holbrook completed his first year as the head coach of one of college baseball’s powerhouse programs, ending just two runs shy of taking the Gamecocks to the College World Series for a fourth consecutive season and falling to his alma mater, North Carolina, in the Super Regionals. While the season did not end the way he had hoped, Holbrook still viewed the year in a positive light.

“I’m getting on the bus and going to Columbia with a great group of kids,” Holbrook said after the Super Regional series in Chapel Hill. “This is my first year as a head coach and it was a great experience for me. We’ll try to build upon this experience and try to put ourselves in position to get to this point next year.”

The Gamecocks posted a 43-20 record in Holbrook’s first season as head coach. USC battled through their fair share of adversity throughout the season, as Jordan Montgomery, Tanner English, L.B. Dantzler and Chase Vergason all missed time during the course of the year with various injuries. The Gamecocks also battled back from three SEC series sweeps and an 0-2 record at the conference tournament. Despite the losses at Boshamer Stadium, Holbrook refused to let his players lose perspective.

“I told the guys after the game that this isn’t the worst thing that’s going to happen to them in their life,” said Holbrook after Tuesday’s loss to UNC. “It’s a baseball game. Over the course of 63 games, they have a lot to be proud of and, as their coach, I’m proud of them.”

While the former Tar Heel player and coach was undoubtedly happy for his alma mater, which will make its sixth trip to Omaha in the past eight seasons, Holbrook wished that the series had gone differently for the Gamecocks.

“Columbia is my home and I love the University of South Carolina with all my heart,” he said, “and I wish I could have done more to help our team get five or six runs today.”

Holbrook also spoke about the impact of the job he took back on July 16, 2012, and the many people that it affects.

“I’m a lucky guy to be the coach at South Carolina and to get to represent so many former players and former greats and major leaguers and guys that have played in Omaha and won national championships,” he said.

The loss to UNC means that the Gamecocks will not play for the national title for the first time since 2009. Holbrook was the third-base coach on the 2010-12 teams that competed for the championship. The fact that some of his players still have not had that experience, he said, is the worst part of coming up short in the Super Regionals.

“Today stinks, but I’m a big boy and I’ve got two national championship rings,” Holbrook said. “I’m okay. I hate it for those kids that don’t have one and they were close to getting ready to play for another one, that were close to winning one last year. That’s the part that hurts right now.”

While the Gamecocks fell short of the College World Series, the season was still successful by most standards. USC won 40 plus games for the 14th consecutive year and extended its record streak of home victories in the NCAA tournament to 27 games. However, Holbrook insisted that, while he viewed his first year as head coach as a positive, the goals for the Gamecock program have not changed.

“The expectation when you coach at South Carolina or when you play at South Carolina is to finish the year in Omaha,” Holbrook said. “As long as I’m the coach, that’s going to be the expectation.”


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