South Carolina never does well in Hoover. The Gamecocks flopping during the SEC tournament is something that happens in May as surely as the first summer blockbusters, television season finales and Memorial Day. And the Gamecocks took their annual implosion to new heights Wednesday, losing their tournament debut against Mississippi State 12-0 in a game shortened by the conference's postseason mercy rule.
It was a brutal beatdown. The Bulldogs' dozen runs came on 14 hits, six walks and a pair of South Carolina errors. Eight runs scored in the seventh inning alone. That was long after Jordan Montgomery, the Gamecocks' ace, was drummed out of the game after allowing four runs in 3.2 innings.
It's not clear how the loss affected South Carolina's quest for a national seed, largely because the disasters that struck the other two contenders for that spot -- Ole Miss and Vanderbilt -- seemed to be much more serious at the time. Instead, Wednesday ended up being a wash among the three teams, given that all of them were defeated. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss will play each other tomorrow morning, while South Carolina squares off against Florida in the early afternoon.
As for Mississippi State, they're now one game away from the tournament semifinals; the Bulldogs will face a Kentucky team coming off an upset win over Florida. Coincidentally, the last time a fifth-seeded Mississippi State team beat a fourth-seeded South Carolina team was -- last year, when the Bulldogs ended up as College World Series runners-up.
Also coincidentally: The last time the Gamecocks were held scoreless in an SEC tournament game was to another team from Mississippi. In 2010. It's probably fair to say that most South Carolina fans would trade a little trouble in May for postseason success in June.