USC extends home postseason winning streak to 27 games
New coach, new roster.
Same expectations, same result.
For the fourth consecutive year and the 11th time in 14 seasons, the South Carolina Gamecocks head into a weekend series needing just two wins to advance to the College World Series. USC swept through the Columbia Regional at Carolina Stadium last weekend to move one step closer to the school’s 12th trip to the College World Series. South Carolina’s three wins extended their NCAA-record home winning streak in the postseason to an astonishing 27 games. The Gamecocks have never lost an NCAA Tournament game in Carolina Stadium.
USC began the weekend with a 7-3 victory over the Billikens of Saint Louis. After Saint Louis erased a 3-0 deficit to tie the game, South Carolina responded with a four-run eighth inning to put the game out of reach and advance to the winners’ bracket. The Gamecocks were led by Graham Saiko, who tallied a home run, a double and two RBIs on the evening. Starting pitcher Nolan Belcher allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings of work and closer Tyler Webb struck out five Saint Louis batters to pick up his fifth win of the season.
The following night, in a game that head coach Chad Holbrook called “the most important game of the year,” the Gamecocks put together one of their finest performances of the season, trouncing the Liberty Flames, 19-3. USC’s offense scored the second most runs in a postseason game in school history and sophomore pitcher Jordan Montgomery fanned a career-high 11 batters, as South Carolina dominated from first pitch to final out. 12 different Gamecocks scored and the 16-run victory tied the school record for the largest win in NCAA Tournament history.
Needing just one more win to advance to the Super Regionals, South Carolina fought off the elements and the Flames to win 6-4 and clinch the regional. After jumping out to a 4-2 lead and enduring a rain delay that pushed the conclusion of the contest from Sunday night to Monday afternoon, the Gamecocks held off a Liberty rally in the late innings to preserve the victory. Colby Holmes recorded his first win in nearly two months, while Webb notched his 17th save of the season. USC has now been to the second-most Super Regionals of any college baseball program in the country in the past 14 years, trailing only Florida State.
The Gamecocks will head to Chapel Hill this weekend for a series with the top team in the nation, the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC has a record of 55-9. South Carolina has faced the Tar Heels twice in Super Regional play before. The Gamecocks lost in three games in Chapel Hill in 2007 to a North Carolina team that would wind up playing for the national championship and South Carolina eliminated UNC in Columbia in 2003 by sweeping the Tar Heels in two games.