College Baseball Analysis: Columbia Regional Breakdown

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South Carolina is the Columbia Regional Champion.  They defeated Manhattan on Friday, Clemson on Saturday and Clemson again on Sunday.

On Friday night Manhattan threw their ace.  Taylor Sewitt had almost single handedly carried the Jaspers into the post season, and he no hit the Gamecocks for the first 5 innings.  In the 6th, the Gamecocks figured him out, and pounded out 4 earned runs.  That would be all Colby Holmes would need, but they added 3 more for good measure in the 7th.  Meanwhile Holmes took a no hitter into the 8th where it was broken up.  He finished the inning with only 1 hit, and the game was delayed for lightning.  Patrick Sullivan finished the Jaspers off after the break.

On Saturday, South Carolina had to play Clemson.  The Tigers couldn't figure out Michael Roth early.  Meanwhile South Carolina put a pair of runs on the board in the fourth inning off of Adam Matthews' two run home run.  Clemson answered in the 7th with 3 runs and took the lead 3-2.

The Tigers added to their lead in the 8th on a solo home run off Matt Price.  Brad Felder, the right fielder who hit the ball, decided to stand at home and watch his hit and then flipped the bat away.  In other words, he pimped his home run.  As often happens with moves like this, karma found a way to even things up.
In the bottom of the eighth Marzilli and Walker got one run back.  Clemson couldn't do anything in the 9th, so the Gamecocks tied the game.  Joey Pankake singled in the tying run, and the winning run was gunned down at the plate.  The two teams held each other at bay until the 12th when Joey Pankake scored the winning run on L.B. Dantzler's walk off single.

Clemson returned the next day for more.  USC put 3 on them in the first and settled in.  The lead was extended to 4-0 in the 6th, but cut to 4-2 in the bottom of that inning.  Jordan Montgomery held them to that before giving way to Tyler Webb.  Webb, who had been infamously referred to as soft by former Tiger Will Lamb, closed out the Tigers.  He allowed a meaningless run in the 9th and earned the save to put the Gamecocks into the Super Regional.

After the game the all regional team was announced.  Here it is:

Pos  Player                    Team

C    Spencer Kieboom   Clemson

1B   Rich Witten            Coastal Carolina

2B Chase Vergason      South Carolina

3B L.B. Dantzler            South Carolina

SS Joey Pankake          South Carolina

OF Adam Matthews       South Carolina

OF Jacob May               Coastal Carolina

OF Brad Felder             Clemson

DH Phil Pohl                  Clemson

P Colby Holmes          South Carolina

P Jordan Montgomery South Carolina

MVP Adam Matthews  South Carolina

South Carolina's regional run was pretty incredible.  The Gamecocks extended their NCAA record of consecutive tournament wins to 19.  They have won 22 consecutive tournament games at home, including all 11 at Carolina Stadium.  They have now beaten Clemson 6 consecutive times in the NCAA tournament.

Their streaks are all the more impressive given the difficult hand they were dealt in this year's tournament.  Clemson wouldn't really be much to worry about as a 2-seed in any other regional.  But they were guaranteed to play their best games of the season against their rival.  They had everything to play for, and they gave it their best shot.  It's a good thing the gap between the two programs has grown to the point that even the uber-motivated Tigers couldn't beat USC in two tries.

Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.