USC lands in Greenville, N.C. Regional

The South Carolina baseball team heads to the NCAA Regionals for the 10th straight season under Coach Ray Tanner as they travel to Greenville, NC to face George Mason at 3 p.m. on Friday May 29. The Gamecocks are coming off a 1-2 showing in the SEC Tournament where they dropped the final two games they played after loading the bases in the bottom of ninth in each game.

The last time the South Carolina baseball team lost more than two games in a row, the Gamecocks found themselves on the wrong end of a sweep against Florida that put them in the midst of a four-game losing streak. They responded by winning 10 of the last 11 regular season games to become one of the hottest teams in America. So it comes as no surprise that USC coach Ray Tanner isn't worried about how his team will react to a 1-2 showing in the SEC Tournament that ended with back-to-back one-run losses.

"I think that our guys understand that that's part of the game. That's who we were playing, great competition," Tanner said. "We came through the first night and we weren't able the next two. That's part of it; I don't think it will bother our guys at all. I think our guys will probably be more relaxed than they've been for awhile, we'll see."

Tanner and the Gamecocks will make their 10th straight and 25th overall appearance in the NCAA Baseball Tournament as they travel to Greenville, N.C. as the No. 2 seed in East Carolina's Regional which features Binghamton, George Mason, ECU and USC. The Gamecocks (38-21) will play George Mason on Friday May 29 at 3 p.m. in the Regional's first game.

After the announcement that Carolina would play the Patriots (42-12), Tanner immediately began looking for information on what to expect. His first call – former USC assistant and current head coach of Old Dominion Jerry Meyers. The Colonial Athletic Associations teams faced each other this season, making Meyers the man to talk to about what the Gamecocks might see. Tanner also has a familiarity with George Mason coach Billy Brown who brought the Patriots to Sarge Frye Field in 2001 for a three-game series which the Gamecocks swept.

"Right now I'm just thinking about Billy Brown and his George Mason team and the hitters they've got in there. I've already been on the phone with (Old Dominion) coach (Jerry) Meyers to get a little information," Tanner said. "I've known Billy for many years and he's had some good teams. I know this is one of his better teams. It's an older team. He's got a lot of seniors and juniors on that team."

The Gamecocks enter the Regional in a position very unfamiliar to Tanner coached team. With a .305 team batting average, Carolina has the lowest team average in the field of four teams by 14 percentage points. They are first in among the teams in home run totals with 99. East Carolina comes in with 95 as a team. Carolina is the only team without a player hitting over .380 for the season.

"I just had a chance to look at it in the last hour pretty good. We're the worst hitting team in the field. There's some offensive teams," Tanner said. "I think East Carolina has almost 100 home runs, George Mason has four guys that have hit more than 10 so offensive laden field and like I said we have the worst hitting team in the field. I'm excited to be playing. It's postseason baseball."

Brown granted sixth-year of eligibility

USC senior pitcher Jay Brown was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA over the week which will allow him to return to the Gamecocks next season. On the year, the right-hander is 3-0 in 11 appearances with a 3.30 ERA which is tops on the staff.

"It's great. This program is something special with this facility, the fans here and being a part of this team is something that's exciting," Brown said. "I'll try to ride it out as long as I can."

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