Even when it's relatively easy for South Carolina -- now winners of 19 straight NCAA tournament games -- it's never actually easy. The Gamecocks never trailed Clemson today in a 4-3 victory, but the game was only decided by the few feet the separated Brad Felder's final fly ball and outfield wall with one on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
So it wasn't quite as dramatic as the back-and-forth South Carolina win Saturday that put the Gamecocks in control of the Columbia Regional, but it was pretty close. Freshman starter Jordan Montgomery started out strong as South Carolina took the lead, and still allowed just five hits and a pair of runs over 6.2 innings. Tyler Webb was on the mound for the last-inning fireworks, but was otherwise solid in 2.1 innings.
It might be the most unlikely of the South Carolina teams to pull this off. After all, the Gamecocks started out 1-5 before the late-season run that made them SEC East champions and won them the chance to host a regional. But once South Carolina gets in the postseason, they're always a team to be dealt with.
At some point, of course, the South Carolina winning streak is going to end -- maybe next weekend against the winner of the Charlottesville Regional, which will travel to Columbia for the super regional, or perhaps in the College World Series in Omaha. The odds still seem against the Gamecocks becoming the first back-to-back-to-back national champions since Southern Cal's five-season run from 1970-74, the greatest streak of dominance in the history of the sport.
But then again, betting against them might not be the wisest thing to do right now. For almost two years, it's been a losing wager, a lesson Clemson again learned in slightly less-dramatic fashion Sunday.