The words of South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook from late Friday night proved prophetic. Sometime the Gamecocks would lose a postseason game at home. One day, that impressive 28-game home winning streak in NCAA the NCAA Tournament would end. Maybe next year. Maybe it would be Saturday night -- against a tough Maryland squad. It was indeed Saturday night.
The Terps jumped out to a quick four-run lead over the first two innings and held off a South Carolina comeback attempt for a 4-3 victory Saturday night at Carolina Stadium.
The Gamecocks left the game-tying run on third base and the potential game winner on first in the ninth when Joey Pankake hit into a game-ending double play. "We had a few opportunities there to win the game or to tie it," Holbrook said. "We put some good swings on it but it just didn't go our way.
"We weren't very clean there at the beginning and spotted them a four-run lead and we couldn't overcome that. . . . We just couldn't get that big hit. (Maryland) got up on us early, and they deserved to win."
The loss drops the top-seeded Gamecocks into the unfamiliar terrain of the elimination bracket where they will face fourth-seeded Campbell Sunday at 1 p.m. Campbell (41-20) took advantage of four Old Dominion errrors for a 4-1 win Saturday afternoon that eliminated the Monarchs.
The winner of Sunday's South Carolina-Campbell contest will face Maryland at 7 p.m. The Gamecocks defeated Campbell 5-2 Friday night in the regional opener for both teams.
South Carolina now has the monumental task of winning three-straight games. If the Gamecocks defeat Campbell Sunday afternoon, they will have to beat Maryland Sunday night and then again on Monday to advance to the Super Regional.
On Saturday, Maryland took advantage of South Carolina's shaky defense and a shakier beginning by Gamecock starter Jack Wynkoop, who lasted only 1 2/3 innings. Wynkoop gave up four runs -- two unearned after a Pankake throwing error in the second -- and six hits during his short stint.
LaMonte Wade Jr.
Charlie White and LaMonte Wade led Maryland with two hits apiece. The Terps (38-21) made that lead stand up behind a strong performance from freshman starter Mike Shawaryn, who pitched 6 1/3 innings. He gave up all three of the Gamecocks' runs -- all earned -- including two in the sixth as Maryland's lead was cut to 4-3.
South Carolina's Max Schrock led off the sixth with a single and later scored on Kyle Martin's double to right field. Panake, who reached on a one-out walk, scored from third on D.C. Arendas' sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, Gamecocks freshman Taylor Widener came on in relief for the longest stint of his short career. Widener gave up only two hits over 6 1/3 innings, keeping the Terps scoreless as his teammates chipped away at the Maryland lead.
Schrock went 2-for-5 and scored a run as he turned in his second-straight mult-hit game. Martin went 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored. Arendas went 2-for-2 and drove in two runs.
Maryland Bat Boy
Maryland, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1970, has now won 13 of its last 15 games, but none more important than the last one. "We're real happy to be sitting where we are in this region, but it's just a second win," said Maryland head coach Jeff Szefc. "We're here to finish thing out." But Holbrook said his team would not go quietly. "I've got a good feeling about my team -- this thing is a long way from over," he said. "If I've got the type kid on my team that I think I've got, we'll come out ready to go."
Fans watching Connor Bright at the plate