USC found a way to shake off a feisty Bucknell team and advance to the winner’s bracket in its NCAA Regional in Columbia Friday night. The Gamecocks scored five runs in the 8th inning to cap a come from behind 9-5 win over the Bison.
USC postgame press conference
The win sets up a showdown with the Citadel Saturday night at 7:00 at Carolina Stadium. Bucknell will face Virginia Tech at 2:00 in an elimination game.
For a good portion of the game Friday USC looked as though they were on a path towards the losers bracket. Sam Dyson up a solo shot in the top of the 4th inning to put Bucknell up 1-0.
Then the rain came. Lots of rain. And lightning too. There was even some thunder. No Regional is complete with out some of the above combo (Just in case you are scoring at home, this makes seven straight years of weather delays in NCAA Regionals I have covered).
Anyway, the tarp came out and the game was delayed for just over an hour.
When play resumed Ray Tanner opted to stick with Dyson on the mound. He ended up allowing four more runs (three earned) before he departed after five innings. Jose Matta relived Dyson and gave up another run in his 2/3 innings of work.
That left the Gamecocks starting at a 5-1 deficit heading into the 6th. Remember, this is a team that entered the game in a huge offensive slump. Carolina dropped four of its final five games and scored two runs or less in all four of those losses. A lot of the fans that weathered the rain storm were getting antsy as the game wore on and the runs were not being put on the board.
Eventually the runs did come. The decisive blow came on a Jackie Bradley Jr. moon shot two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that put the Gamecocks up six five. When the ball left Bradley’s bat it looked like a routine high fly to left. It ended up carrying just over the left field wall.
Adrian Morales added a three-run homer later in the inning to give the Gamecocks all the insurance they needed.
Bucknell postgame press conference
This sets up a great in-state showdown with the Citadel Saturday night. The Bulldogs will send their ace, Asher Wojciechowski to the mound to face Carolina ace Blake Cooper. Wojciechowski has 12 wins this season and is expected to go in the first round of next week’s MLB draft. Cooper has been the Gamecocks workhorse and most reliable pitcher all season.
The winner of Saturday night’s game will move to the championship game Sunday night and whoever comes through the losers bracket will have to beat them twice.