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FIRE UP THE #FIREHOLBROOK HASHTAG … AGAIN …

The University of South Carolina baseball team lost its sixth consecutive Southeastern Conference (SEC) series this weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Embattled head coach Chad Holbrook’s team led the sixth-ranked Louisiana State Tigers 6-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s deciding game – putting them on the verge of picking up a critical late-season series win.  But the Gamecock bullpen gave up a game-tying run in the ninth – and the game-winning run in the bottom of the tenth – to drop yet another series and fire up the familiar #FireHolbrook hashtag.

South Carolina (27-19, 11-13 SEC) hasn’t won a conference series since late March, when Holbrook’s squad took two of three games at home against Alabama.  This year’s squad – which began the season ranked No. 4 in the nation – is now unranked in every major collegiate poll.

Here’s the game-winning walk-off hit from LSU’s Antoine Duplantis

True many of the Gamecocks’ defeats – like Sunday’s loss – have been close games. But plenty of them haven’t been close, including a 20-5 drubbing on the road last month against North Carolina and a 19-1 humiliation at home against Kentucky last week.

When Holbrook inherited the Gamecock program from former head coach (and current athletics director) Ray Tanner following the 2012 season, South Carolina had appeared in three consecutive College World Series finals – winning championships in 2010 and 2011.

They haven’t been back to Omaha since.

In 2015, Holbrook’s team failed to qualify for postseason play – the first time the Gamecocks had missed out on the postseason in over a decade-and-a-half.

Tanner – who recently received a three-year contract extension and a hefty raise – has made it clear he is sticking with Holbrook, saying the team simply needed to “stay the course” and that eventually his program would “get some of those close ones back.”

This website has previously defending Holbrook, too.

“We fully expect Holbrook to reorient the trajectory of the program given the talent he’s brought in … as well as some of the stars he’s already landed for the 2015 class,” we wrote back in 2014.

We defended Holbrook again last April – attributing his success on the recruiting trail to the team’s improved performance a season ago.

“The young talent he recruited is paying dividends, and South Carolina is well-positioned for a return to postseason success,” we noted a year ago.

Unfortunately, the Gamecocks came up short in their 2016 postseason run and have been mediocre at best in 2017.  That may be enough for fifth-year head coaches to keep their jobs at other schools, but it’s not the level of performance to which South Carolina fans have become accustomed (as evidenced by the growing number of empty seats at Founders Park).

 

Banner via @LSUbaseball

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