Ryne Stanek's pitching performance helped end South Carolina's 22-game NCAA tournament winning streak.
Let's begin by congratulating Arkansas for doing something that no other team has been able to do in the last two years, give or take a couple of days: Beat South Carolina in an NCAA tournament game. For the first time in 23 contests on the biggest stage in college baseball, the other team was better than the Gamecocks. Arkansas is now firmly in control of its half of the College World Series bracket; the next win will send the Hogs to the championship series.
For the Gamecocks, though, this is the bittersweet ending to one of the most impressive streaks of dominance in the history of college baseball. As it turned out, the unprecedented streak ended for the very same reasons that it began and often continued: Clutch or luck or whatever magic seems to take over at Omaha from time to time.
In a game they lost by one run, the Gamecocks stranded six men in scoring position. In the past, it always seemed like the key hit or bizarre play came naturally to South Carolina; against Arkansas on Monday night, it never came at all.
So the Gamecocks are back where they were, more or less, when the streak began: In the losers' bracket, facing elimination and with a seemingly impossible task ahead of them if they want to defy the odds and win it all again. Their margin for error is gone.
The good news for South Carolina fans is that, for the last 22 games, they haven't needed it.