Things have been different for South Carolina's baseball team this year. A program that has been to 15 straight NCAA tournaments -- the longest active streak in the SEC -- will be staying at home for the postseason this year. But one thing has not changed: When it comes to the SEC tournament in Hoover, the Gamecocks are awful.
And so in a season full of surprises for South Carolina, the 5-1 loss to Missouri in the first round of the conference playoff is in line with expectations. The Gamecocks are now 4-15 in Hoover dating back to the 2008 tournament, and haven't won a postseason game there since 2012. In other seasons, this was nothing more than a bump in the road to an often successful run in the NCAA tournament. This year, it is the end of the line for their already-slim postseason hopes.
If you will permit a moment of homerism: Chad Holbrook should not be fired this year. But after being handed a program that had gone to three straight College World Series finals -- an unsustainable streak -- he has seen his three teams lose in the Super Regional round, then lose in the Regional round (at home), then fail to make the tournament at all. There is a trend here, and if Holbrook doesn't reverse it in 2016, South Carolina has to dismiss him and start over if it wants to continue to be regarded as a top-tier baseball program.
That's not to take away from a solid performance by Missouri, which cranked out 11 hits, including three doubles. Tigers pitchers limited the Gamecocks to one run on five hits and didn't issue a walk. And just like that, Mizzou keeps its own long-shot hopes of getting to the national playoffs alive. The Tigers play Vanderbilt on Wednesday to start the double-elimination portion of the tournament.