COLUMBIA— South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said it was apparent the NCAA selection committee didn’t want more than one of the state’s powerhouse programs to last long in the tournament.
That is one reason the committee grouped the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks with state rivals Clemson and Coastal Carolina in the four-team regional at Carolina Stadium.
“They only want one team coming out of here,” Tanner said.
Tanner has treated this like any other regional, although clearly it’s not.
The Gamecocks have a century-long rivalry with Clemson and Coastal Carolina lost a super regional to South Carolina in 2010.
The three Palmetto State rivals have a history of NCAA baseball success. South Carolina has advanced to nine super regional rounds since the format was introduced in 1999. Clemson has done the same. Mid-major Coastal Carolina reached the best-of-three super regional round in 2008 and 2010.
“I think you go back to the history and tradition they’ve established at Coastal Carolina, they could go somewhere and win,” Tanner said. “Clemson certainly has a proven track record. We’ve been able to win. Well, they’re only getting one now because they’ve suffocated us a little bit here.”
The Gamecocks enter as the tournament’s eighth seed overall and with an NCAA record 16 game tournament win streak dating back to the 2010 College World Series.
But it won’t be an easy road for the national champs. The Gamecocks will face Manhattan ace Taylor Sewitt (11-1), who pitched 22 scoreless innings and got the victory in all three games of the Jaspers’ Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament title run. Today’s game starts at 4 p.m.
On Wednesday, South Carolina lost freshman catching standout Grayson Greiner to a meniscus tear in his left knee. Greiner, picked for the USA Baseball collegiate national team this summer, twisted his knee during batting practice, Tanner said.
Greiner had surgery Thursday and won’t play. Tanner said Greiner could return should South Carolina reach the super regional round, but likely only as a designated hitter.
Dante Rosenberg will take over for Greiner.
Should the Gamecocks get past Manhattan, that’s when the state rivalries kick in – especially with Clemson.
The Tigers might have a little bit more to prove since they’ve lost 16 of the past 23 games in the series. That included losing two in a row to the Gamecocks at the College World Series in 2010 when Clemson would’ve advanced to the championship series with a victory.