The USC student section is a convenient scapegoat

As Alabama’s last shot attempt clanked off the rim and the final seconds melted off the clock, the fans that were there went wild in Colonial Life Arena, celebrating their team’s first conference win of the season.

Now, rewind the clock back 10 minutes. Half of the students that had packed their corner of the arena had exited the building. Alabama was slowly chipping away at a lead that had once been fifteen points and the men’s basketball team needed its fans more than ever.

Where were the students?

They probably didn’t care enough to stay. They have no loyalty to the team, to the school, or to their fellow students who are working so hard on the court. They’d probably rather be in five points.

These are the kinds of conclusions that Gamecock fans so readily spout out at the sight of students leaving a game early. Although it is understood that this is a problem, it is not solely a student problem. It is a problem that permeates the entire South Carolina fan base and the students have been used as a convenient scapegoat for far too long.

Around 15 players stayed on the field for the Alma Mater after Saturday's loss.At the beginning of Tuesday’s home game against Alabama the student section was packed. The students had filled their respective seats for a 9 o’clock game to watch a team that looked like it may have been on its way to another losing SEC season. And that loyalty stopped with the students. There was a sea of garnet beyond the student section… A sea of garnet empty chairs. There were entire rows of empty seats and the upper deck may as well not even exist because those “loyal fans” that constantly look down upon the student body are never loyal enough to fill them.

And it isn’t just basketball.

There was not a soul, anywhere in the stadium, for the home football games against South Alabama and Furman. Fans of all ages skipped out on the game, yet the only fans that continually get pounded for lack of loyalty are the students.

These other, and far more superior, Gamecock “fans” are the same ones that actually have the money to travel to a bowl game. ESPN panned out to the crowd only once because of how dismal the fan turnout was.

Yes, the students should be the most energized part of the fan base. And the sad part about our fan base, is that it is. No one in Williams-Brice stands the entire game except the student section. No one starts the wave, jumps up and down to Sandstorm as an entire body, ignites chants, or yells on every opponent’s offensive possessions. And when the students leave early, the energy goes out of the crowd. Maybe that’s why they are the scapegoat. When they’re gone, the crowd presence at South Carolina athletic events is abysmal.

There remains to be seen a crowd in college athletics that sits down with their arms crossed more than South Carolina fans. So maybe, students leaving early is just a manifestation of an overwhelming problem in an entire fan base. Maybe, all Gamecock fans should look introspectively and wonder if they’ve done everything in their power to vitalize this fan base. If a fan can honestly say they have, then they can place judgment on the student section.

Otherwise, keep your mouth shut and just watch the game. It’s what South Carolina fans are good at.

Sports Get Us Through Tragedies: Remembering 9/11

Everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. Teachers were going over math problems. Construction workers were building the newest buildings. Journalists were waiting for the next big story on a slow morning.

And then the plane hit.

13 years ago today America was forever changed. Thousands of innocent lives were taken in what was the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. It raised questions about national security, flying and how we were all going to stay safe.

It was almost as if life as we knew it came to a halt. The Emmy Awards that were scheduled to take place on September 16th were postponed and didn’t take place until November. Varying TV shows either changed scenes that could be construed to be similar in any way to what happened or in some cases were even cancelled all together.

Sports were no different. Major League Baseball postponed all games through September 16th. Minor League Baseball cancelled all championship series. The NFL postponed all games that were scheduled for the weekend of September 16th. And college football followed suit, canceling games the same weekend.

But throughout all of the somber moments and times of reflection, hope wasn’t lost. And in the aftermath of what happened, America came back stronger. And moments on athletic fields across the nation gave them something to rally around.

The first baseball game to be played after the attacks took place in New York as the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves. No one really knew how to come back from all that had happened so the teams did all that they knew to do: they played. And Mike Piazza gave the fans of New York something to finally smile about, hitting a go-ahead home run late in the game that gave the Mets the win.

At NFL and college stadiums all over the country players ran out of the tunnel not with their team or school’s flags but with the flag of the United States. Chants of “U.S.A, U.S.A” rang through stadiums rather than cheers for specific teams, and Americans let the world know that they were back.

That’s the great thing about sports. It’s more than just a game. It’s more than the athletes, the mascots, the teams or the coaches. It can bring people together in the toughest of times and give them a reason to be happy.

On April 15 of last year, bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding over 300. In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, 17,565 fans sold out TD Garden for the return of the Boston Bruins. And together they sang a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that alone proves sports is more than just a score.

There is more to life than sports, just as there are many more important things in life than who wins a football game. We unfortunately are reminded that everyday when tragedy hits, be it the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the passing of a loved one due to cancer.

But sports can provide a way of healing and an outlet for coming together not as fans, but as patriotic citizens of America. We will never forget, and we will always prevail.

Gruel: Domestic Violence and College Sports: Something Needs to Change

Last week, Roger Goodell had the opportunity to make a statement for the NFL, to say that it will not not stand for domestic violence of any sort. He had the opportunity to use Ray Rice as an example, that any football player who thought it would be OK to hit a woman would pay a price.

Goodell failed.

The two-game suspension of Ray Rice for hitting his then-fiancé and knocking her out in a casino elevator speaks volumes about sports, athletes and society as a whole.

Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, hit his fiancé and drug her out of a hotel elevator at an Atlantic City Casino. The same commissioner who suspends players for up to four games for drug or sex offenses gave Rice a very minimal suspension, most likely because it was the player’s first offense.

But the NFL’s suspension of Rice goes far beyond just a running back missing the first two games of the regular season. The problem of domestic violence is also seen in the NCAA ranks, and the issues of punishment seem to be there as well.

On July 22, Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was arrested for a domestic violence charge after it was alleged he hit his girlfriend. Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey was charged with domestic violence against his pregnant ex-girlfriend earlier this year before the charges were eventually dropped. Last year, video evidence was released of Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde hitting a woman who decided not to press charges.

While Taylor has been dismissed by the Bulldogs, both Carey and Hyde are remained on their respective teams, putting these issues behind them. Why did the women they both allegedly beat drop their charges? We will never know, but especially in the case of Hyde, it’s obvious that violence against a woman occurred. And not enough was done about it.

It’s time for the NCAA to step up and do something about athletes and domestic violence. In the case of Taylor, he will most likely transfer to another school, possibly at the Division I level, and look to have a successful college career. And while everyone deserves a second chance, Taylor – if he truly hit his girlfriend – shouldn’t be able to play football in the NCAA again.

Is it harsh to ban a player from NCAA sports for domestic violence? Yes, very. But to allow these players to continue to play without any significant punishment cannot go on.

Neither Carey nor Hyde had any legal action brought against them in the end, but that doesn’t change what they allegedly did, especially in the case of Hyde. Whether fans want to believe it or not, NCAA football is more than about winning championships. It’s about shaping boys into men and preparing them for the real world. By letting these domestic issues continue, the NCAA simply isn’t getting the job done.

There is currently no standard or rule for athletes and domestic violence. While it would take a good bit of work and there would have to be some sort of way to differentiate between different crimes, there needs to be a higher level of accountability for domestic violence. No matter what the situation, there is a never a time where a man can hit a woman. And until the NCAA severely punishes players who act against woman, these situations could continue to rise.

The NCAA needs to step up in the area in which the NFL commissioner didn’t. Keep athletes who act against women out of the game, and clean up domestic violence in sports.

 

Skip Bayless makes a mockery of everything I’ve ever written

Sports journalists are dying out.

People are blaming blogs and Twitter and television and the Internet, but I know why smart, talented sports writers are fading into the sunset.

Skip Bayless.

If you don’t know who Skip Bayless is, then you have lived a wonderfully charmed existence and are the envy of every intelligent sports fan. However, if you have had the incredible misfortune of stumbling upon the ramblings of this utter sham of an “analyst,” then I pity you, for you have witnessed the death of intelligent sports debate.

Skip Bayless is a fanatic. When you strip away all the pomp and circumstance from ESPN’s “First Take,” arguably the most idiotic television program since “Jerry Springer,” you’ll see that Bayless is nothing more than an over-caffeinated bag of hot air that somehow stumbled in front of a television camera. I don’t have time to rehash the massive amount of lunacy that have poured out of Bayless’s mouth over the years, but there are dozens are websites that have taken the time to destroy Skip’s analysis on a wide range of topics.

Granted, this simply requires listening to Bayless speak and then finding mountains of facts that support the opposite, but kudos to those who take the time to do it.

If this criticism of Bayless seems a little harsh, please understand that it is not being used for sensationalism or to draw in views (Bayless’s bread-and-butter). No, I am so colorfully critical of this man because all the websites in the world would likely not be able to hold the reasons that I despise and loathe Skip Bayless.

I could point to his patented, over-the-top faux outrage or his moronic catch-phrases or his incessant need to stress every other syllable or his constant claims that his words come from his “heart of hearts” or his perpetual waffling that can only be rivaled by an IHOP kitchen. Instead, I will boil down all my disdain to one simple reason.

Skip Bayless makes a mockery of what I do.

I was born and raised a South Carolina fan and graduated from USC. Like most college graduates, I hold my alma mater’s athletic program in high regard. However, I also hold a journalism degree and have had to cover the Gamecocks for various outlets, including this website.

While covering games, I have a certain responsibility to you, the fans, and to myself as a journalist. I must remove my biases and write and report what I perceive as an analyst, not what I want as a fan.

Skip Bayless couldn’t recognize journalistic integrity if it punched him in the stomach on a sunny day while wearing a nametag. Bayless is out to get a reaction out of viewers and to drive up ratings.

And the worst part is that his shtick works.

People watch his show and engage him on social media. He will say outlandish things this week regarding the NBA Finals and people will actually waste precious moments of their lives being upset by him.

Arguing with him is impossible because his circular logic is enough to give you vertigo. If his credibility is attacked, he will respond by mentioning his many years as a newspaper writer, which is an insult to every paper that ever employed him.

No, the easiest way to beat him is to ignore him. To turn him into the crazy old coot at the bar, yelling at the television screen while no one listens. To unfollow him on Twitter and free yourself of his evidence-free brand of analysis.

(And yes, I do realize that by writing this, I am completely ignoring my own advice. However, the mere thought of people having to spend one more second listening to Skip Bayless has driven me to the brink of insanity and I have to do something, even if it’s not taking the very advice I am giving).

Of course, this won’t happen. Skip will continue to dominate sports media, while talented, hard-working beat writers and analysts go unnoticed because they lack the pure crazy that swims through Bayless’s blood stream.

Smart, observant sports fans are being mocked every second that Skip is paid to discuss athletics. For those fans that crave the work of honest, fact-checking sports media members, I am on your side.

We need integrity more and Bay-LESS.

Gamecocks 2014 season recap

Alright Gamecock Nation, you’ve had a few days to move on without Gamecock baseball. Although this season didn’t have accomplishments compared to recent past, 2014 was full of memories, moments and magic that will never be forgotten.

So don’t mourn the fact that the season is over, and look back with me as I recap the season the Gamecocks had.

With a No. 7 preseason ranking and the predicted SEC champion by the conference coaches, South Carolina got off to a fiery start. The Gamecocks started the season 16-0, a perfect record that included nine shutouts before conference play started.

The highlight weekend of the Gamecocks’ season before conference play was on the last day of February and the first two days of March, the Clemson series. The home and home series that also had a neutral site game in Greenville, South Carolina featured everything gritty and edgy there is between the two in-state rivals.

For the Gamecocks, the weekend was magical ending in a sweep of the Tigers. It all started with this:

The Gamecocks, the No.1 team in the country at the time, started conference play on March 14 against Ole Miss. The Rebels handed the Gamecocks their first loss of the season, 6-4 at Carolina Stadium. The next day, featured a double header in which the Gamecocks won both games, to win the series. The first win of the day most fans would say was the most magical game of the season.

Down 4-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, a hobbled, injured Max Schrock took a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall for a game-tying home run, resembling Kirk Gibson’s home run heroics as he limped around the bases in the 1988 World Series. In the tenth inning Brison Celek hit walk-off single.

Two weekends later, more extra inning heroics ensued. A double header against Tennessee at Carolina Stadium on March 29 featured two walk-off wins for the Gamecocks. The first, a walk-off home run by freshman Jordan Gore and the second was a six-run ninth inning comeback, ended by a Grayson Greiner walk-off grand slam.

South Carolina went through some struggles in conference play, mainly in part to not having the consistent lineup that propelled them to a 16-0 start. Injuries to Max Schrock’s ankle and back, Connor Bright’s elbow, Grayson Greiner’s thumb, Elliott Caldwell’s back and Joey Pankake’s hamstring had head coach Chad Holbrook mixing and matching lineups that could not produce consistent play.

The Gamecocks ended their regular season with a 18-12 conference record (42-14 overall) and the last win was the most significant. A 6-3 win over Vanderbilt awarded the Gamecocks the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament and a first round bye.

South Carolina’s postseason wasn’t what most people expected it would be. The Gamecocks went winless in Hoover, Alabama at the SEC Tournament. The team did earn a top 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, earning a regional host. Matched with Old Dominion, Campbell and Maryland, USC went 2-2, eliminated on June 1 by Maryland 10-1.

This season marked the first time since 2009, that the Gamecocks had not reached the super regional stage of the tournament and the first hosted regional loss since 1976. The Gamecocks’ 28-game postseason home winning streak was snapped and they suffered their first postseason losses at Carolina Stadium (18-2).

The end wasn’t what Gamecock Nation wanted, but what the team accomplished throughout the regular season showed just how magical a baseball game can become when the Gamecocks are on the Carolina Stadium field. 2014 won’t be remembered as the season the Gamecocks didn’t make the College World Series. Down the road, it will be remembered at the season of magical comebacks, heroic home runs and inspiring moments.

Season notes and statistics:

-Overall record: 44-18, Home: 34-7, Away: 9-9, Neutral: 1-2, SEC: 18-12

-15th consecutive season with 40 or more wins

-The Gamecocks’ pitching staff had a 2.43 ERA

-South Carolina had a .281 team batting average with 31 home runs

-Gamecocks won seven games in 2014 when trailing entering the seventh inning including five wins when trailing entering the ninth inning.

-Junior first baseman Kyle Martin lead the team in hitting with a .336 average

-Junior catcher Grayson Griener led the team with 8 home runs, 50 RBI, 13 doubles and .486 slugging percentage

-Junior center fielder Tanner English led the team with 21 stolen bases

-Junior LHP Jordan Montgomery and Freshman RHP Wil Crowe tied the team lead with eight wins

Video credit: Youtube: South Carolina Gamecocks

Terrapins tame the Gamecocks

For the first time since 2009, South Carolina’s baseball season fell short of being Super.

After a 9-0 win over Campbell earlier in the day, the Gamecocks ran out of gas in a 10-1 loss to Maryland. The loss marked the first time that the Gamecocks had not won a home regional since 1976.

As had been the case for a large portion of the season, a lack of timely hitting came back to bite the Gamecocks. South Carolina was 2-for-15 with runners on base and 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The night started out with great promise for the Gamecocks. Marcus Mooney began the game with a single and scored on a double from Kyle Martin and led 1-0 after three innings. However, South Carolina could not keep the Maryland bats silent from that point on. The Terrapins scored in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings to drain the life out of Carolina Stadium and send the Gamecocks home.

South Carolina sent closer Joel Seddon to the mound and the junior kept the Gamecocks in the game for most of the evening. Seddon tossed a career-high 5.1 innings, struck out a career-high six batters and allowed five runs on eight hits. After Seddon was chased in the sixth, South Carolina’s bullpen could not keep the game within reach. The Gamecocks used four pitchers in the sixth inning, the same number they used in the first two games of the regional.

The Gamecocks will miss the Super Regionals for the first time in five seasons and end the year with two home postseason losses in three games. Entering Saturday, South Carolina had gone 28 games without losing a tournament game at home.

Head coach Chad Holbrook acknowledged after the game that the 45-season was nothing to be ashamed of, but also was not what the program expected.

“It’s been a good season,” Holbrook said after the loss, “but good’s not good enough here. I understand that. This is a special program.”

Crowe Time: Freshman dominates as Gamecocks survive

With their backs to the wall, the Gamecocks put their season in the hands of a freshman making his first career postseason start.

Wil Crowe extended South Carolina’s season for at least a game by hurling a complete game shutout, as the Gamecocks defeated Campbell 9-0. The Tennessee native who turned down $1.2 million dollars from the Houston Astros to come to Columbia was brilliant in his NCAA tournament debut, holding the Camels to three hits and striking out four on just 101 pitches.

“He was as efficient as I’ve ever seen him,” head coach Chad Holbrook said after the game. “He was in total control out there. It was a masterful performance by him.”

Crowe had to wait for his time to shine after a bizarre top half of the first inning. A failed hit-and-run appeared to result in Max Schrock being caught in a rundown between first and second. Instead Schrock was sent back to first and Joey Pankake was called out for interference. After a nearly 13 minute delay that involved the umpires leaving the field and NCAA representatives getting involved, Schrock was allowed to stay and first and Pankake was able to finish his at-bat. The Gamecocks were ultimately unable to score in the inning.

Holbrook said there wasn’t much he could do while the umpires decided on the call.

“I just sat over there and bit my fingernails,” Holbrook said. “There wasn’t much I could do. I’m glad they took their time to make sure they got it right.”

South Carolina got on the board in the third inning on a Joey Pankake RBI single. The Gamecocks plated four runs in the fourth and added four more in the ninth. Max Schrock led the Gamecock offense with two doubles and a pair of RBIs.

“You’re seeing a glimpse of the player we know we have in Max Schrock,” said Holbrook. “His numbers are pretty good this year, but they could be much better. A healthy Max Schrock puts up All-American numbers.”

The Gamecocks advance to a rematch with Maryland tonight. The Terrapins need just one win to clinch a spot in the super regionals.

After suffering their first home postseason loss in 11 years last night, Holbrook was proud of the way of the way his team responded.

“You don’t have a choice,” Holbrook said. “You either play well and try to win the next game or it’s time to put the uniforms up. I hope don’t want to do that yet.”

Gamecocks can’t complete comeback, lose to Maryland 4-3

By John Del Bianco

The Gamecocks experienced something on Saturday night for the first time in twelve years, a postseason loss in Columbia. South Carolina (47-13) was defeated by Maryland (38-21) 4-3 in game four of the NCAA Tournament’s Columbia regional.

The loss snapped a 28-game home NCAA Tournament winning streak and was the first postseason loss for the Gamecocks at Carolina Stadium (17-1). In an environment that is used to producing late-game magic and comeback victories, the Gamecocks couldn’t complete the comeback of a 4-0 deficit they faced following the second inning.

With two outs in the bottom of the second, the Gamecocks (who were the road team) committed two errors and starting pitcher Jack Wynkoop allowed three consecutive hits, adding three runs (two unearned) to a 1-0 Maryland lead.

“We had our chances. Two unearned runs on the board and we lost by a run, and we had some opportunities at the plate,” head coach Chad Holbrook said.

Freshman Taylor Widener was called upon to relieve Wynkoop in the second and ended up being the only pitcher out of the bullpen for South Carolina. The right hander threw 6.1 scoreless innings, gave up two hits and struck out six batters. Widener’s outing was his longest appearance as a Gamecock.

“I just realized that I had to go out there and the main focus was to just get one batter at a time. I was getting outs and tried to keep the team in the game,” Widener said.

South Carolina scored its first run in the fourth off of a two out RBI single by DC Arendas.

The Gamecocks’ best offensive inning came in the sixth when Kyle Martin missed a game-tying three-run homer to right field by inches. The junior was credited with an RBI double, one of his game-high three hits. Arendas followed two batters later with a sacrifice fly, cutting Maryland’s lead to 4-3 and the eventual final score.

South Carolina had multiple chances in the final three frames to either tie or take the lead. The Gamecocks got the lead runner on in each inning, but couldn’t cross home. With runners on the corners and one out in the ninth, Joey Pankake grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Thirteen Gamecocks reached base and eleven got into scoring position, but a .182 batting average with runners in scoring position didn’t get the job done. Three runners reached third base with less than two outs and only one came in to score.

Saturday’s loss puts USC on the brink of elimination and the end to their 2014 season. To advance past the regional stage of the tournament, South Carolina must win three elimination games in two days.

“It’s a long way from over. I told the team it’s not easy. The NCAA Tournament is not supposed to be easy. These opponents aren’t going to lie down for us. We’ve got to find a way to win and until we get our last out, we still have life,” Holbrook said.

The Gamecocks will have a quick turnaround and play Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Campbell, who they beat on Friday 5-2. The winner will face the Terrapins Sunday night at 7 p.m.

 

Montgomery dominates as Gamecocks beat Campbell

If you give Jordan Montgomery the ball in the NCAA tournament good things will happen.

After seeing his regular season numbers dipped below their average and getting roughed up in Hoover, Montgomery was dominant in his return to the mound. The junior allowed two runs on five hits as the Gamecocks defeated Campbell 5-2. The win marked South Carolina 17th consecutive postseason win at Carolina Stadium and 28th in a row at home in the NCAA tournament.

Montgomery gave up a solo home run in the fourth innings, the first run he had allowed in the NCAA tournament since the 2012 regional-clincher against Clemson. Surprisingly enough, both games followed the same pattern. Just like 2012, South Carolina plated three runs in the first inning, then sat back and watched Montgomery baffle hitters. He struck out nine and walked one batter en route to his eighth victory of the season.

“I think the best decision I made all week was to give Jordan Montgomery the ball,” head coach Chad Holbrook said after the win. “I don’t think we win that game if Jordan’s not out there. He knows what pitching on a big stage in a big game is all about.”

In his fifth career start in the NCAA tournament, Montgomery was nearly untouchable. The junior retired ten consecutive hitters at one point and pitched into the eighth inning. Montgomery attributed the effectiveness of his change-up to his long outing.

“Definitely when I have my change-up going, I’m able to go deep in the game,” Montgomery said. “It makes my fastball more efficient and I can catch them guessing every now and then.”

The win continued South Carolina home postseason winning streak and the Gamecocks can improve to 29 consecutive wins tomorrow night, but Holbrook downplayed the importance of the streak.

“A lot of the players in our dugout, they weren’t a part of this streak,” said Holbrook. “It’s unfair for them to have to carry the burden of a streak. That’s not their responsibility. It’s baseball. This streak’s not going to last forever. We’re going to have to play from the loser’s bracket at some point at Carolina Stadium. It’s going to happen. But we win a lot more at home than we do on the road.”

Columbia Regional Preview: Will the Gamecocks get to the Supers?

The NCAA Tournament gets underway today with 32 games, including the first two games of the Columbia Regional. (2) Maryland and (3) Old Dominion get things underway at 1:00 at Carolina Stadium, while the top seed Gamecocks will host Campbell in game 2 at 7:00 p.m. South Carolina is looking to make its fifth Super Regional in a row, but will they be able to get there? Here’s a game by game prediction for this weekend’s games.

Game 1: (2) Maryland vs. (3) Old Dominion: It’s been 14 years since the Monarchs of Old Dominion have been in the tournament, but it’s been 43 since the Terrapins have seen postseason baseball. Terrapins starter Jake Stinnet will shut down an Old Dominion offense that isn’t stellar at the plate and the Terrapins will move into the winner’s bracket.

Game 2: (1) South Carolina vs. (4) Campbell: South Carolina didn’t play well at all in Hoover, but a week of refocusing and practice should be able to get them back on track. The Gamecocks will roll in their first game behind a strong start by Jordan Montgomery and move into the winner’s bracket against Maryland.

Game 3: (3) Old Dominion vs. (4) Campbell: Campbell has strong starting pitching, but their lack of offense will cost them against an Old Dominion squad that is just as strong on the mound. Campbell will head home as Old Dominion wins the loser’s bracket game and lives to play another day.

Game 4: (1) South Carolina vs. (2) Maryland: South Carolina will not roll as easily as they did in their first game, but the Gamecocks will get a strong start from Jack Wynkoop and just enough offense to get past Maryland and speedy infielder Brandown Lowe (who’s hitting .346 on the year). South Carolina moves into the position everyone wants to be in, having to be beat twice.

Game 5: (2) Maryland vs. (3) Old Dominion: In a rematch of Friday’s opening game, Old Dominion will come out strong against Maryland pitcher Jake Drossner and hang on to move on and send Maryland home. Old Dominion will get its second win in as many days but have to get two wins in a row against the Gamecocks to move on.

Game 6: (1) South Carolina vs. (3) Old Dominion: South Carolina has won 27 straight NCAA Tournament games in Columbia, and they’ll make it 30 this weekend. The Gamecocks are the healthiest they have been in months, and they’ll use strong pitching and timely hitting, something that was missing in Hoover, to get past Old Dominion and move on to the Super Regionals.

Bold Prediction: South Carolina will move onto the Super Regionals, but will be able to stay and home and host at Carolina Stadium after the (2) seed Arkansas Razorbacks upset Virginia in Charlottesville.