The unranked University of South Carolina baseball team limped into the postseason last weekend – having dropped 11 of their last 14 games overall. That skid cost the Gamecocks – who had climbed as high as No. 3 in the national rankings – their spot in the top 25.
The skid nearly – and probably should have – precluded them from hosting a regional, too.
South Carolina made the most of its home field advantage in the regional round, though, winning three straight to advance to the super regionals for the first time since 2018. The Gamecocks (42-19) will travel to Gainesville to play Southeastern Conference (SEC) rival Florida – a team it swept at home back in April.
The Gators (48-15) won three consecutive elimination games to advance to the super regional – which they will host by virtue of being the higher tournament seed. The winner of the upcoming best-of-three series will punch its ticket to the 2023 College World Series (CWS) in Omaha, Nebraska.
For the full tournament bracket, click here …
South Carolina is looking to go back to Omaha for the first time since 2012 – when it fell to Arizona in the finals after back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011. Florida is looking for its first CWS appearance since 2018. The Gators won their first and only national championship the previous season.
As noted, Florida won three consecutive do-or-die games to win its regional – the first time that’s happened since 1998. Gators’ head coach Kevin O’Sullivan made a gutsy decision to start reliever Ryan Slater in the deciding game against Texas Tech – and the redshirt sophomore from Palm Harbor responded with five shutout innings. Florida also got a pair of two-run homers on Monday from senior catcher BT Riopelle – who had been 0-15 heading into the final game of the regional.
South Carolina’s offense exploded during its regional, outscoring opponents 44-11 while hitting .357. Pacing the Gamecock attack was Vanderbilt transfer Gavin Casas with six runs scored, a pair of doubles and six runs batted in (RBIs).
Perhaps the most encouraging stat for sixth-year head coach Mark Kingston? His team did not commit an error during the entire regional.
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While the Gamecocks advanced into the next round of postseason play, No. 6 Clemson collapsed in its home field regional. First-year head coach Erik Bakich‘s team entered June as the hottest team in baseball – winning sixteen in a row and 26 of their last 28 games. After adding a seventeenth consecutive win last Friday, Tennessee stunned the Tigers with a 6-5 win on Saturday – and Charlotte eliminated them the following day with a 3-2 win.
Clemson hadn’t lost back-to-back games since it was swept by No. 1 Wake Forest more than two months ago.
The Tigers have now failed to advance past the regional round in thirteen consecutive seasons – spoiling a stellar season from two-way superstar Caden Grice. Clemson finishes the 2023 campaign with a 44-19 record.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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