There were times in Saturday's win over Clemson when it seemed very much like South Carolina's 17-game winning streak in the NCAA tournament was about to end -- no more so than when Brad Felder blasted a home run to right field to extend Clemson's lead to 4-2 in the top of the eighth. But as we should all know by now, that only meant that South Carolina had the Tigers right where they wanted them.
South Carolina strung together a leadoff walk and a double in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to 4-3. Then, with runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Joey Pankake smacked a single into center, scoring pinch runner T.J. Costen. Chase Vergason went for home but couldn't find the plate before he was tagged out, eventually leading to extra innings.
Adam Matthews momentarily appeared to end it in the bottom of the 10th, when a ball he hit to center field bounced off the top of the wall -- and back into the field of play, limiting Matthews to a double. Sean Sullivan struck out swinging to end the inning.
Clemson then put Jason Stolz on second base with one out in the top of the 11th -- but South Carolina maneuvered out of it.
Then it was a Pankake single, with Pakake moving to third on a hit by Evan Marzilli. Two batters later, LB Dantzler singled to end one of the wildest games in a great rivalry. The Gamecocks continue on in the winners' bracket -- where, if Clemson can defeat Coastal Carolina tomorrow, we might be treated to another bitter battle. As if either fan base's hearts can take it.