South Carolina baseball moves NCAA regional play to North Carolina State

South Carolina baseball moves NCAA regional play to North Carolina State

On a night when the ball was flying out of Doak Field at Dail Park, the difference for South Carolina came down to the ability to throw strikes in a key stretch.

Now the Gamecocks face the difficult task of winning three baseball games in two days in order to extend their season beyond the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 2-seeded Gamecocks dropped a 6-4 decision Saturday night to No. 1 North Carolina State in the winner’s bracket game in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,036. Each team hit three home runs, but a bases-loaded walk by Matthew Becker forced the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.

Now the Gamecocks’ backs are against the wall.

“We played five games in five days last week, so it’s not impossible, like I told the guys,” USC coach Mark Kingston said. “Now it will be more difficult and the road will be longer, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. The teams have done it.”

South Carolina (37-24) will play James Madison on Sunday at noon in an elimination contest. The winner of that game will face the Wolfpack (35-20) at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The winner of the early elimination game will have to beat NC State twice, once on Sunday and again on Monday, while the Wolfpack will only need one more win to advance to the super regional round. James Madison eliminated Bryant 8-1 earlier on Saturday.

Kingston wasn’t ready to name a starting pitcher for the upcoming game, but said it will likely be Dylan Eskew. Saturday’s starter, Garrett Gainey, threw 87 pitches, but said he could return if necessary.

The challenge of overcoming three games will be difficult. So far this weekend, the Gamecocks have used six pitchers: Eli Jones (70 pitches), Ty Good (31) and Chris Veach (73) on Friday, and Gainey (87), McCreery (13) and Becker ( 31) on Saturday. .

Gainey even went so far as to say he hoped to continue playing on Monday.

“This is my last year, my last try,” he said. “I’m going to give the team everything I have so we can win. I feel that we are all going to get to work and we are going to achieve it. Let’s believe in that.”

Until the crucial moment of the seventh, all runs came through the long ball. Dylan Brewer, forced into action due to a small fracture in Ethan Petry’s left hand, responded with two home runs, his fifth and sixth of the year. Brewer hadn’t started since April 26 and his most recent home run before Saturday came on March 30.

Brewer had a solo shot in the fifth inning and a two-run explosion in the seventh inning, tying the game each time. Will Tippett homered for the second straight day in a seven-hit effort by the Gamecocks.

The Wolfpack responded in kind. Garrett Pennington hit two home runs, one solo and the other a two-run hit. Eli Serrano added a solo home run and the game was tied at four heading into the seventh inning.

Gainey allowed all three home runs but otherwise pitched well for six innings. He allowed four runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

“The pitches just stayed in the zone,” Gainey said. “They are a good team that hits the fastball. I didn’t run it and the results are shown. I feel like it wasn’t a terrible outing, but it wasn’t the best of the year either.”

Pennington said NC State had a plan against Gainey.

“We were going to dismantle the fastballs,” Pennington said. “That was the scouting report that the coaches worked hard on, and we said if we got his fastball, we’d be fine. “That was the plan and we executed it and did our job.”

Connor McCreery relieved in the seventh and the strike zone was difficult to find. McCreery allowed a single and a walk before sending a long fly ball to the warning track to end his inning after three batters.

Becker then walked two, the last being Alex Sosa with two outs, to force in the go-ahead run. NC State added an insurance run in the eighth. Matt Heavner had a bunt single, moved to second on a sacrifice and to third on a groundout. The Gamecocks intercepted him on third, but the throw hit him in the helmet and he escaped, allowing him to score.

Ethan Petry Update

Here’s what Kingston had to say about Petry’s hand injury:

“There was no way I could play tonight. He has a small fracture just above her pinky finger. He can’t feel that he can hit at a level that allows him to play. We’ll wake up (Sunday) and reevaluate, but he wasn’t ready to go tonight.

“It was a matter of getting an x-ray. It was a matter of deciding if a treatment was possible that would bring him closer to being ready to play, and after going through that whole process, it was not an option.”

NCAA tournament results and schedule

friday games

South Carolina 8, James Madison 7 (10 inns)

North Carolina State 9, Bryant 2

Saturday’s games

James Madison 8, Bryant 1 (Bryant eliminated)

North Carolina State 6, South Carolina 4

sunday games

South Carolina vs. James Madison in elimination game, noon (TV TBD, streaming on ESPN+)

NC State vs. TBD, 6 pm (TV TBD, streaming on ESPN+)

Monday’s game

If necessary, to be determined (TV to be determined, streaming on ESPN+)