USC moved one step closer to advancing to the super regional round of the NCAA tournament with a 9-4 win over the Citadel in Columbia Saturday night. The Gamecocks will move into Sunday night’s 7:00 Championship game while the Bulldogs fall into the losers bracket and will play Virginia Tech at 2:00 Sunday.
USC postgame press conference
The winner of that losers bracket game will play USC Sunday night and they will have to beat the Gamecocks twice. Should USC lose Sunday night, the deciding game would be played Monday at 7:00.
Now that we have the formalities of the regional format out of the way, let’s get to the game. More bad weather (shocker) pushed the start time back to almost 8:30 but the fans that patiently waited for things to get started weren’t shortchanged.
Carolina starting pitcher Blake Cooper was spectacular on the mound. He struck out a career high 14 batters in his seven innings of work. He had the Bulldogs off completely confused all night. He did give up four runs, however none of them were earned.
Cooper managed to overcome what at first looked to be a crushing mistake by catcher Kyle Enders in the bottom of the 5th. After a strikeout that would have ended the inning Enders let the ball get past him and then threw wildly to first base allowing the runner to reach safely. That lead to a two out three run homer by Bryan Altman that gave the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead going into the 6th inning.
That two run lead was looking pretty good with Bulldogs ace Asher Wojciechowski on the mound. The Southern Conference pitcher of the year and probable first round pick in next week’s MLB draft was having an impressive night on the mound. He struck out 11 Gamecock batters on the night, a total that moved him into the national lead in K’s with 155.
Citadel postgame press conference
Wojciechowski did run into trouble in the 7th inning though when the Gamecocks broke through with a five spot. It certainly looked like fatigue caught up to him on a hot, sticky night in Columbia. Wojciechowski threw 132 pitches on the night and counting his total from Sunday’s Southern Conference tournament final he has thrown over 300 pitches in the past ten days.
Despite that he was still hitting the low to mid 90’s all night. He gave a gutsy performance but it wasn’t enough to outduel Cooper who improved to 11-1 on the season.
As for tomorrow’s game Ray Tanner will probably start Jay Brown. Brown is 3-0 with a 4.40 ERA this season. Nolan Belcher could also get a look but I would be shocked if he doesn’t hand the ball to Brown to start the game.