They didn’t take the easiest path to get there, but USC is back in an NCAA Super Regional. USC advanced to the next round with a 10-5 win over UNCW Tuesday afternoon. The victory sealed what was statistically an improbable run through the loser’s bracket. How tall were the odds? Less than 7% of the teams that lose the opening game of an NCAA Regional advance. USC overcame those long odds to advance to its 12th Super Regional.
Chad Holbrook gave Taylor Widener the start against a UNCW team that features a lineup full of dangerous hitters. Widener came through with four innings of three hit ball. He allowed just one run. Josh Reagan pitched the next three and was the pitcher of record, earning his third win of the season. Clarke Schmidt and Braden Webb pitched the final two frames.
UNCW took an early 1-0 lead but the Gamecocks surged ahead for good in the fourth. After failing to reach base in the first three innings the Gamecocks batted around and scored five runs on four hits. That fired up the over 7,000 fans that found a way out of work and into Founders Park. It was the biggest crowd of the Regional and it was a factor. UNCW made three errors, all on the infield, and all on routine plays. It wouldn’t be hard to place some of the cause on the noise coming from the stands directed at the Seahawks.
USC continued to get production from its unsung heroes. Hunter Taylor started at catcher and got another big hit. He went from third string catcher to the All-Regional team. Holbrook said his double that bounced off third base Saturday was the play the started team’s run that lasted through the final out Tuesday. DC Arendas homered again Tuesday, his second of the tournament. Even the struggling John Jones came up with a huge two-out double in the 9th that drove in two runs that gave the Gamecocks the five run cushion going into the final frame.
USC will savor this one for a while, then turn its attention to its Super Regional matchup against Oklahoma State this weekend. The best-of-three series starts Saturday afternoon at 3:00. Game two is Sunday at 3:00. In necessary the third game will be Monday TBA.