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College World Series Preview: South Carolina vs. Kent State

South Carolina is now in the position of playing must win games.  The Gamecocks dropped a close 2-1 game to a very talented and very hot Arkansas team on Monday night.  Now they face Kent State in the losers' bracket.

What must the Gamecocks do?  South Carolina needs to beat Kent State on Wednesday night to get another shot at Arkansas.  If they can do that, they'll play Arkansas on Thursday night.  If they can beat Arkansas they'll play them again on Friday night.  If they win that, they'll go to the championship series on Monday.  If they lose any of the games, the season is over.

Where did Kent State come from?  Ohio.  The Golden Flashes ran through the MAC tournament without losing to qualify for the NCAA tournament.  They earned a 3 seed in the Purdue regional.  Then they beat Kentucky twice and Purdue once to advance to the Super Regionals.

Next they traveled to Eugene, Oregon to play the Ducks.  The won the first game, lost the second and won the third to punch their ticket to Omaha.  All three games were one run games.  They lost to Arkansas in their CWS opener and then beat Florida to face the Gamecocks.

Can they hit?  Yes.  They are hitting .301 for the season as a team.  They knocked Hudson Randall around on Monday and scored 4 very quick runs.  Jimmy Rider and George Roberts are getting most of the publicity, but most all of the line up can hit.  The Gamecocks will have to be on their game to keep this offense down.

What about pitching?  The Golden Flashes have had three regular starters.  Starn and Bores have already thrown.  That means Tyler Skulina will probably be the starter.  The 6'6" righty has an 11-2 record and a 3.63 ERA.  He has struck out 97, but he has also walked 41.

If Skulina doesn't go the distance Casey Wilson and Brian Clark are likely to see action out of the bull pen.  Wilson is a righty with 7 saves and a 3.63 ERA.  Clark is a left handed freshman.  Opponents are only batting .184 against him.  Both Clark and Wilson pitched against Florida but threw very few pitches each.

Who will we pitch?  It's Jordan Montgomery's turn in the rotation, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will pitch.  In an elimination game don't be surprised if Coach Tanner decides to go with Michael Roth.  Roth threw less than 100 pitches and will probably be ready to go if asked.  On the other hand Montgomery has proven himself to be very capable and would be a fine choice as well.

Is it all over now that the streaks are broken?  Of course not.  The same resolve that allowed this program to come back in so many games will serve them well in trying to come through the losers' bracket in Omaha.  It was the  route they took two years ago and that turned out ok.  They have nothing to prove but everything to play for.

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


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