COLUMBIA--- South Carolina coach Ray Tanner remembered turning Robert Beary loose on a 2-0 count at last week's Southeastern Conference Tournament and seeing him hit into a double play.
In a similar spot against Stetson on Saturday night, Tanner again gave Beary the green light -- with much better results.
Beary's grand slam lifted defending national champion South Carolina to an 11-5 victory over the Hatters in the Columbia Regional. Beary's blast, his third of the season and first since March, put the Gamecocks (47-14) ahead 6-1.
Tanner said he tries to keep the same approach with his players, even if they don't always succeed as with Beary's missed SEC opportunity. This time, Beary saw a straight fastball from faltering Stetson starter Will Dorsey (7-6) and hit it into the left-field bleachers.
"He got a pitch to hit and hit it a long, long way," Tanner said.
The win put South Carolina in control of the NCAA regional at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks need only to beat North Carolina State or Stetson on Sunday night to advance. The Wolfpack or Hatters would need to win three more times, including twice over South Carolina, to win the regional.
"We've got some guys that are rested and you feel like you're in pretty good shape," Tanner said. "But crazy things happen in baseball."
The Gamecocks have had to overcome several injuries this season and are likely without star Jackie Bradley Jr., the College World Series MVP, for the rest of the way. They've relied on stellar pitching, defense and just enough hitting.