The Wolfpack used a combination of shut-down pitching and timely hitting all weekend to advance, spurred on by three straight sell-out crowds at Doak Field. The Pack finished the job on Sunday night, downing the Gamecocks 2-1 in the final game of the Raleigh Regional.
The Pack will have to wait another day to find out who it will face in the Super Regionals next weekend. Georgia took down Georgia Tech on Sunday night to force a decisive elimination game on Monday afternoon in Athens. Should Tech win that game the Pack will host the Supers but a Georgia victory means a road trip for the three-game series.
The Gamecocks got on the board first as Reese Havens parked the second pitch of the game from Surkamp over the right field wall. It was Havens second straight home run, as he ended the early afternoon game with a two-run, walk-off blast to eliminate James Madison from the tournament.
South Carolina starter Will Atwood cruised early on, retiring the first 10 batters he faced in order before walking Ryan Pond in the fourth. The lefty got ahead of Wolfpack hitters, forcing them to make weak swings early in the count.
Surkamp was less spectacular for the Pack, giving up several hard hit balls and falling behind to Gamecock hitters but managed to battle through and avoid any big innings. He walked two batters in the first, allowed a single in the second, walked another in the third and hit a batter but escaped from the two frames unscathed.
The Pack tied it up in the fourth on a shot down the right field line off the bat of lefty Jeremy Synan. The left fielder crushed a ball that looked like it would hook foul, but managed to stay fair making it a 1-1 game. State put two more on with no outs but failed to take the lead, as Atwood coaxed three straight outs to end the inning.
The game was delayed for over an hour in the bottom of the fourth because of thunderstorms. Surkamp did not come out after the delay, and was relieved by Sam Brown. Atwood remained in the game for the Gamecocks.
After a scoreless sixth inning, the Pack grabbed the lead in the seventh thanks to some timely hitting from Matt Payne. State loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Chris Schaeffer and Drew Martin, followed by a walk by Ryan Pond. With two outs and the bags full of red jerseys, Payne hit a seeing-eye grounder into the hole between short and third. Havens knocked the ball down at short but had no play and the Pack took a 2-1 advantage.
From there the Pack turned to its bullpen, which did not disappoint. Avent used Brown, Drew Taylor, Kyle Rutter and Alex Sogard to shut down the Gamecocks over the final five innings of play. The Pack bullpen allowed just one hit and walked one in the winning effort.