Team reaches Supers in Holbrook’s first year
Chad Holbrook’s first season as head baseball coach at the University of South Carolina ended at the same school where his coaching career began.
The Gamecocks fell in the Chapel Hill Super Regional against the North Carolina Tar Heels, Holbrook’s alma mater and the school where he coached for fifteen seasons before coming to Columbia. Holbrook also spent his college career at North Carolina, playing for the Tar Heels from 1990-1993. South Carolina’s bid for a fourth consecutive trip to the College World Series ended in a game three loss to UNC. The Gamecocks ended the year with a 43-20 record, their 14th consecutive season with at least 40 victories.
South Carolina dropped the series opener by a score of 6-5 with North Carolina’s Skye Bolt laced a two-out, game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Gamecocks squandered several opportunities to put the game away, stranding 12 runners and committing three errors. USC chased Tar Heel starter Kent Emmanuel, a third-round pick in the MLB draft, after just 2.1 innings and led 4-2 in the bottom of the third inning. However, North Carolina responded with one run in the third and two in the sixth. The Gamecocks rallied to push across the tying run in the top of the eighth inning, setting the stage for Bolt’s ninth inning heroics.
With their backs against the wall, South Carolina responded in game two with a convincing 8-0 victory. Jordan Montgomery baffled the Tar Heels all afternoon, tossing a four-hit shutout for his first complete game of his career. USC took control of the contest early with a five-run second inning, as the Gamecocks batted around in the frame and handed UNC starting pitcher Hobbs Johnson his first loss of the season. South Carolina’s offense was led by shortstop Joey Pankake and designated hitter L.B. Dantzler, who each drove in two runs.
After inclement weather forced the third game to be pushed back a day, North Carolina ended USC’s season with a 5-4 to punch its ticket Omaha. For the third time in the series, the Gamecocks got on the board first and led 4-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. However, the Tar Heels batted around in their half of the sixth and plated three runs, taking a lead that they would not relinquish. South Carolina attempted to rally, but UNC closer Tyler Thornton kept the Gamecocks at bay.
Although they fell short of the College World Series, the Gamecocks continued their stretch as one of the more prolific college baseball programs in the nation. South Carolina swept through the Columbia Regional to bring its home postseason winning streak to 27 consecutive games. The Gamecocks have yet to lose a postseason game at Carolina Stadium, going 16-0 in the facility. USC also made its fourth consecutive trip to the Super Regionals and their 11th in the past 14 years. In that span, only Florida State has made more appearances in the Super Regionals than the Gamecocks.