USC’s season and hopes of returning to Omaha remain alive. The Gamecocks are headed to the NCAA Super Regionals for the 13th time after defeating UNCW 6-3 Monday afternoon to win the Greenville, NC Regional in three games. The Gamecocks will face their SEC rival Arkansas in Fayetteville in a best two out of three series with time and date to be announced. The Razorbacks also hosted the regular season series and won two of three.
The Gamecocks methodically put away the Seahawks with constant offensive pressure. They had 15 hits and left a season high 18 runners on base, but were able to put together two-run rallies in the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 9th innings.
Hunter Taylor gave USC a 2-0 lead in the third on a two out, bases loaded double, a hard hit grounder up the middle that glanced off the glove of the diving shortstop and caromed into the outfield. In the sixth, Madison Stokes made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly and LT Tolbert later drove in a run with a single.
A two run homer by the Seahawks Kep Brown, a product of Wando and SMC, cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth, but Stokes got those runs right back in the seventh with a two run double. And Jonah Bride put it out of reach with a two run homer in the 9th.
Freshman Carmen Mlodzinski gave USC another strong outing leaving in the sixth after surrendering the home run. Eddie Demurias replaced him and immediately gave up back to back singles. But he neatly fielded a bunt attempt and gunned down the lead runner at third, then got out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
Sawyer Bridges replaced Demurias in the bottom of the 9th with two on and no outs. He gave up a one out sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 8-4 but that was all the Seahawks could muster.
Danny Blair, who came into the regional hitting .186 but was the hero of the win over Ohio State Friday with his three run homer, was named the regional MVP. He hit .500 with 3 RBIs. Carlos Cortes, who had four hits on Monday, also batted .500 for the regional. As a team the Gamecocks hit .336, had an ERA of 2.33 and committed 1 error.
USC is 36-24 going into the Super Regional.
Mark Kingston postgame press conference
Madison Stokes from the postgame press conference
USC AD Ray Tanner talks about the Gamecocks advancing to the Super Regional