Gamecocks one loss away from elimination

Gamecocks one loss away from elimination

Published Jun. 19, 2012 1:19 a.m. ET

It had to end sometime. All streaks do.

The South Carolina Gamecocks arrived at TD Ameritrade Park for their second
game of this year’s College World Series having won an astonishing 22 NCAA
tournament games in a row going back to 2010, a record that led coach Ray
Tanner’s group to two consecutive CWS titles. The next longest tournament
winning streak belonged to Texas with 15.

It was another SEC team which snapped South Carolina’s streak on Monday night. Arkansas
beat the Gamecocks 2-1 on a sweltering night in Omaha, Neb. It was the fourth
time the Razorbacks and Gamecocks played this year with each winning a game

So there were no surprises when the two met in Monday’s CWS
showdown in the winner’s bracket.

The only down downside for South Carolina was where and when the last head-to-head
matchup took place. It’s one thing to drop a game to a conference rival on May
5. It’s quite another to lose in late June with a national title on the line.

SEC rival Florida found that out the hard way on Monday. The No. 1-ranked college
team for most of the regular season, the Gators lost their first game of the
CWS to the Gamecocks. Ranking and seeding didn’t matter. It was fifth meeting
between the two. They all knew each other by name, and could have swapped
spring break stories between innings.

But the Gators have a long break ahead of them now. An upset loss to Kent State
on Monday afternoon eliminated Florida.

The Hogs and Gamecocks played exceptional defense. Either team could have won.
But what else would you expect from teams that know each other so well?

South Carolina starting pitcher Colby Holmes got off to a shaky start, giving
up a bullet through the infield to the first man he faced. The Hogs
manufactured a run in the first inning on two hits. Holmes gave up another run
and a total of four hits in 3 2/3 innings. Even the outs were hard-hit balls,
so Tanner made a change to reliever Tyler Webb.

After that the game nestled into a pitcher’s duel. Webb and Hogs’ starter Ryan
Stanek had great nights. Neither was perfect, but Webb gave up only two hits
and one walk in 5 1/3 innings, while Stanek, who threw one fastball after
another in the 94-to-98 mph range, gave up just one on three hits and three

Sophomore Barrett Astin finished the night for the Hogs, throwing three
near-flawless innings, giving up only one hit and rarely having a ball leave
the infield.

The Gamecocks don’t go home, even though the loser bracket presents a much tougher road than Arkansas now faces. One more loss and South Carolina’s dream of a three-peat would come to an abrupt end. 

The good news is: they don’t have to face another SEC rival, at least not right away. The next opponent, Kent State, won’t be nearly as familiar. But if the Gamecocks get past Wednesday night, it will be old home week once more, and they will get another shot at the Razorbacks.  

At least for one game, they’ll get to see some new faces.