USC’s season hangs in the balance today in Greenville, NC. The Gamecocks face East Carolina at 6:00 at Clark-LeClair field with the winner moving on to the Super Regional round and the loser folding up the uniforms and packing up the balls and bats until next year.
AUDIO: Ray Tanner talks about championship (:45)
East Carolina is the host school and the number one seed in this tournament but they have taken a long difficult road to get to the title game. Not all of the issues were their fault. Bad weather on Friday postponed their game with Binghampton until Saturday morning. The Pirates won that game but lost to USC Saturday night.
On Sunday ECU played Binghampton against at 2:00, winning 16-9 and followed that up with an 8-6 victory against the Gamecocks in the nightcap.
Today will be the Pirates fifth game in three days. It will only be USC’s fourth in four days.
Remarkably, despite the fact the Pirates have played so much they have managed to keep their pitching staff relatively intact. Brad Mincey pitched a complete game in the early game Sunday and Kevin Brandt pitched into the 9th inning in the Pirates win over USC that night.
ECU coach Billy Godwin hasn’t named a starter but Mike Anderson (1-1, 5.86), Patrick Somers (2-2, 3.57) or Shawn Armstrong (1-0, 4.26) are guys that will probably get the first look. The expression “Johnny Wholestaff” has been tossed around quite a bit by those close to the Pirate program.
USC will start senior right hander Jay Brown. He’s spent this season as a midweek starter am dos 3-0 with a 3.30 ERA. Tonight will be his eight start of the season. For Gamecock fans wondering if Sam Dyson might be able to pitch some tonight on three days rest, Ray Tanner gave a firm “no” to that question last night.
The Gamecocks are in good shape on the mound though. They still have Parker Bangs available (3-2 5.29) out of the bullpen and closer Alex Farotto (4-2, 4.70, 7 saves) hasn’t pitched this regional. Freshman lefty Adam Westmoreland (4-2, 4.24) could also pitch but he’s been dealing with a sore arm so Tanner may prefer to use him only in an emergency (i.e. Brown gets knocked out of the game in the first three innings).
It should be an exciting one game playoff to see which team will advance to play North Carolina this weekend in the Super Regional round at Chapel Hill.