South Carolina 10, UNCW 5
For the first time since 2013, it's back to the Super Regionals for South Carolina. The Gamecocks overcame a first-game loss on Friday night, reeling off four consecutive victories capped off with a 10-5 win over The University of North Carolina at Wilmington on Tuesday afternoon.
Early on, a South Carolina offense that had scored 33 runs in its previous two games was held in check by Seahawk righty Ryan Foster. Foster, the co-pitcher of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association, mowed down the first nine Gamecocks in order to keep the game scoreless into the home half of the third inning. UNCW, playing as the home team despite the game being played at South Carolina's Founders Park, struck first in the third. Robbie Thorburn led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. A Steven Linkous single put men at the corners before an RBI groundout by Brian Mims pushed Thorburn home.
Much like Sunday's first regional championship game, after UNCW scored its initial run, the contest was all Gamecocks. South Carolina was quick to respond with a five-run top of the fourth, spurred on by a pair of Seahawk errors. Gene Cone and TJ Hopkins collected back-to-back base hits to start the frame before the first mistake of the inning by UNCW. Dom Thompson-Williams hit a ground ball to first, but UNCW first baseman Zack Canada tried to get an out at second. His throw sailed high and all runners were safe. Alex Destino gave South Carolina the lead for good with a two-RBI single that plated Cone and Hopkins. Madison Stokes checked in with a two-RBI single of his own, chasing Foster from the game. As soon as Foster was gone, Hunter Taylor reached on an error, and DC Arendas laid down a squeeze bunt to push a fifth run across.
The Gamecocks would expand their lead in the sixth, notching four straight hits to begin the inning. Destino led off with a double, and a Jonah Bride bunt single put two in scoring position for Stokes, who singled home Destino. Bride was picked off of second, which wound up costing the Gamecocks a run, as Taylor recorded a single to put Stokes into scoring position. Back-to-back walks drawn by Marcus Mooney and Cone forced home another run and made the lead 7-1.
A leadoff single was erased on a double play for the Seahawks in the sixth, and UNCW went 1-2-3 in the seventh, allowing South Carolina to maintain their comfortable 7-1 lead. Arendas would add another run to the lead with a leadoff homer in the eighth, an inning where UNCW's bats woke up.
Mims and Gavin Stupienski each singled, and a walk to CAA Player of the Year Nick Feight loaded up the bases with no out for the Seahawks. South Carolina brought in Clarke Schmidt, their Friday night ace, who only threw four innings in Friday's loss to Rhode Island. Schmidt promptly gave up a two-RBI double to Casey Golden, trimming the lead to 8-3. Pinch hitter Andy Austin drove in another run on an RBI groundout, and a Canada single followed to drive home Golden. Schmidt would buckle down from there, and got out of the inning by inducing a pair of infield popups.
The momentum swing was short-lived, however, as Bride and Stokes would each be hit by pitches in the ninth inning. With the two men on, pinch hitter John Jones notched a two-RBI double, pushing the lead to 10-5, where it would sit for good.
Braden Webb, a weekend starter for South Carolina, struck out Linkous to begin the home half of the ninth. After allowing a double to Mims, Webb got two foul popups from Stupienski and Feight to end the game and send South Carolina to the next round.
The Gamecocks will face Oklahoma State in a series that begins Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Founders Park. The game will be shown on ESPN2. Sunday's game is at 3:00 p.m., and an if-necessary game Monday will start at either 1:00, 4:00 or 7:00 p.m. Sunday and Monday's TV info will be released later.
LSU 5, Rice 2
--- by Christopher Novak
The LSU Tigers punched their ticket to the Super Regionals after a 5-2 defeat of the Rice Owls on Tuesday night.
The Tigers offense was aided especially by Greg Deichmann who went a hearty 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run he belted in the seventh inning. Deichmann's homer drove in himself and Kramer Robertson and provided enough insurance for LSU to eventually get the job done in the ensuing two innings.
Jared Poche' pitched well after Jake Latz started the game throwing only 1.1 innings. Poche' threw six innings of shutout ball allowing just one hit and struck out six of the 19 batters he faced. Hunter Newman would eventually finish the job to pick up his eighth save of the season following a clean ninth inning of work with a strikeout mixed in.
In winning the Baton Rouge Regional, LSU now moves on to face Coastal Carolina. The Super Regionals series will be held in the bayou which should play to LSU's advantage. That said, a lot of wackiness has often occurred this season, so perhaps nothing is for certain.